1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

Richard Hurd, "Mason" 1797; Commonplace Book in Kilvert, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Richard Hurd (1860) 246.



The Rev. William Mason, Residentiary and Precentor of York, and rector of Aston near Rotherham, died April 5, 1797. I had known him from a youth at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he was educated under my worthy friend Mr. Powell. Our friendship continued through life. With many other virtues he possessed a fine genius for poetry, and was indeed the best poet of his time, as appears from his Works of that sort published by himself at different times in three volumes. He also wrote the Lives of his two ingenious friends and mine, Mr. Gray and Mr. Whitehead. The last production of his pen was an Ode formed upon the 28th chapter of the Book of Job, of which he printed a few copies. One of these he sent to me a few days before his death, with a friendly dedication to me prefixed. It is called in the title-page a private copy, for he intended not to publish it, at least for the time, but to present it to some select friends. He had entered into his 72nd year on the 23 of February last, yet his lyrical composition is not inferior in merit to any others he had ever produced.

With a taste for all the polite arts, and with no small proficiency in them, he was an excellent parish priest, and will be long remembered with respect and veneration at Aston, where he usually resided, and where he died. He took much delight in that place, and built an excellent house upon it. The garden about it was not large, but laid out with that taste which was to be expected from the author of The English Garden. Vale, amicissime! R. W. 1797.