1860 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Tickell

George Gilfillan, in Specimens with Memoirs of the less-known British Poets (1860) 3:29-30.



TICKELL is now chiefly remembered from his connexion with Addison. He was born in 1686, at Bridekirk, near Carlisle. In April 1701, he became a member of Queen's College in Oxford. In 1708, he was made M.A., and two years after was chosen Fellow. He held his Fellowship till 1726, when, marrying in Dublin, he necessarily vacated it. He attracted Addison's attention first by some elegant lines in praise of Rosamond, and then by the Prospect of Peace, a poem in which Tickell, although called by Swift Whiggissimus, for once took the Tory side. This poem Addison, in spite of its politics, praised highly in the Spectator, which led to a lifelong friendship between them. Tickell commenced contributing to the Spectator, among other things publishing there a poem entitled the Royal Progress. Some time after, lie produced a translation of the first book of the Iliad, which Addison declared to be superior to Pope's. This led the latter to imagine that it was Addison's own, although it is now, we believe, certain, from the MS., which still exists, that it was a veritable production of Tickell's. When Addison went to Ireland, as secretary to Lord Sunderland, Tickell accompanied him, and was employed in public business. When Addison became Secretary of State, he made Tickell Under-Secretary; and when he died, he left him the charge of publishing his works, with an earnest recommendation to the care of Craggs. Tickell faithfully performed the task, prefixing to them an elegy on his departed friend, which is now his own chief title to fame. In 1725, he was made secretary to the Lords-Justices of Ireland, a place of great trust and honour, and which he retained till his death. This event happened at Bath, in the year 1740.

His genius was not strong, but elegant and refined, and appears, as we have just stated, to best advantage in his lines on Addison's death, which are warm with genuine love, tremulous with sincere sorrow, and shine with a sober splendour, such as Addison's own exquisite taste would have approved.