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OR, MONTHLY REPORT OP
WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esq. THE following particulars respecting one of the best (perhaps the very best) of our living poets .we believe to be correct.
Williain Hayley was born at Chichester, in the month of October, 1745. His parents were Thomas, the only son of Thomas Hayley, Dean of Chichester, and Mary, daughter of Colonel Yates, inember for that city. Our poet lost his father before he had reached his third year, and was educated by an admirable mother, whom he has justly described as a woman equally distinguished by personal beauty, by strength of understanding, and by tenderness of heart.
The lines at the end of the fourth epistle of the Essay on Epic Poetry, beginning with
“O thou fond spirit, who with pride hast smild,
“He sigh'd in numbers, or he laugh'd in rhyme;" &c. containing a little reference to his own illness, and a lively description of his mother's tenderness and watchings, when reason had threatened for ever to leave him, are exquisitely beautiful. Even the counterpart of this description in Pope is not more sweet.
Rocking the cradle of declining age,” &c. He was sent early to Kingston school, and suffered there from an epidemical fever; on his recovery, after years of Vol. II.
illness and decrepitude, he had a domestic tutor, who prepared him for Eton; on leaving school he was entered at Trinity Hall in Cambridge, and before he resided there wrote the first of his poems that appeared in print, an Ode on the Birth of the Prince of Wales, inserted in the Cambridge collection. On leaving the university he passed several months in Scotland, on a visit to some young friends who were then students of physic in Edinburgh. In the year 1769, he married Elizabeth, daughter of the Reverend Thomas Ball, Dean of Chichester; which lady died about ten years ago; and after residing some years in London, he settled in 1774 in his native county at Eartham; where he continues to reside in lettered ease and elegance, in a situation remarkable for health and beauty, and which his taste has created, improved, and embellished.
His epistles to his friend Mr. Roinney were published in 1778; epistle on the Death of Mr. Thornton, Ode to Howard, and epistles to Gibbon, in 1780; the Triumphs of Temper in 1781, and the Essay on Epic Poetry in 1782. The public received, in the year 1784, from the fertile and amusing pen of our author, a volume of plays, containing three comedies and two tragedies, each in three acts. The comedies are in rhyme, but such rhyme, so familiar, so easy, so flowing, that prose itself can scarcely appear more natural, inore convenient for the purposes of dialogue, or the business of the drama. Like the ancient Iambic, recommended by Aristotle, and characterised by Horace, as the measure peculiarly suited to the scene: Natum rebus agendis.
Of the Two Connoisseurs, the second comedy in the collection, it is hardly possible to speak in terms of sufficient approbation. The compactness of the fable, the natural humour of the characters, the justness and delicacy of the sentiments, and the elegant vivacity of the dialogue, are all severally and equally admirable.
From this time declining health interrupted his literary pursuits; but such a mind as Mr. Hayley's, so fertile in genius, so rich in literary acquirements, could not remain altogether inactive; and he has since favoured the world with an elegy on that “ all accomplished” man, Sir William Jones, and a life of our immortal poet, Milton; in which he defends his character from the harsh and malignant strictures of his foriner biographer. In this latter production he records his
intimacy with Mr. Cowper, the divine author of The Task, and gives him those commendations, valuable both on account of the peu from which they proceeded, and the high merit of the object upon whom they were bestowed. It is extremely honourable to Mr. Hayley, that he has never prostituted his praise upon mere wealth and greatness; but conscious of its value, has confined it to genius, to virtue, and to talents. The names of Romney, Howard, Gibbon, Mason, Sir William Jones, and Cowper, derive and impart lustre to the productions of Hayley.
In addition to the works published with his name, the world have agreed in ascribing to him, with some probability, though they were never publicly acknowledged, the Elegy on the Greek model, addressed to Bishop Lowth, the Essay on Old Maids, and the novel of the Young Widow.
Mr. Hayley has also published the Memoirs and Core respondence of Cowper, a poet with whom, as already observed, he lived upon the most friendly and intimate terms; and it is fortunate for the public that such a poet should have had so competent a biographer.
The last production of Mr. Hayley's muse is perhaps not a perforinance upon which he would wish to rest his claims as a poet. The Triumphs of Music is not to be perused throughout without a little exercise of the Trio umphs of Temper. For the subject of this poem we refer our readers to an article in our first Number, entitled ALESANDRO STRADELLI. The reader will dism cover in this production much morality, more piety, but very little poetry,
As the subject of this memoir is still living, and may he long continue to charm and bless the world with the exertion of his talents, and the practice of his virtues ! we shall forbear to enter into any farther particulars of a life, which is spent in the exercise of every thing that is social and benevolent.
INGENIOUS CONTRIVANCE OF A DEAP PERSON. A REPUTABLE merchant of Wesel, in the Duchy of Cleves, a venerable, hoary old man of seventy-eight, had, as early as his twentieth year, a great difficulty of heariny, which, as far as he could recollect, was occae sioned, either by a violent fall, or by a profuse bleeding at the nose. The most promising means against this disorder proved ineffectual, it rather growing upon him from year to year, till, at last, he became quite deaf, unable to understand a single word, without bawling loud in his ears. Both German and Dutch physicians, who were consulted on this occasion, could not, with all their art and skill, afford any reliet: at length, after an accurate examination of the external organs of hearing, the case was deemed incurable. However, he procured a variety of acoustic tubes from Amsterdam, in order to afford some relief to those who wanted to speak with him: but their use was afterwards laid aside, as being attended either with much inconvenience, or as never procuring any distinct degree of hearing.
Afterwards marrying, and having two of his eldest children, a son and a daughter, taught to play on the spinnet, he often came up to it, and eagerly wished to hear the music: as the music-master once happened to. say, that it was very possible for him to hear, if, act cording to an old, and well-known experiment, he held a thin stick, or a tobacco-pipe, with the one end on the bridge of the sound-board, and with the other to the upper teeth; this he instantly tried, and was greatly pleased, that he could both plainly distinguish each note, and, as he thought, much stronger than formerly, at his best hearing But all this was ineffectual to make him understand persons speaking, till an accidental trial pro, cured him also this happiness.
In the year 1749, he had the good fortune to light, by mere accident, on a peculiar inethod, by which any person, at the distance of twenty, or even thirty paces, may, without greatly straining his voice, speak to be understood. This happened as follows: As one time this deaf person had all his family about him, and was pleasing himself with his daughter's playing, by means of his tobacco-pipe; his brother, who happened to be present, alledged, that as he could plainly distinguish the sounds or notes of the spinnet, he might also, in the same manner, understand the articulate sounds of a speaker. For this purpose, his brother took a speaking, trumpet, and holding the narrow part, or mouth-piece, to the upper teeth of the deaf person, he uttered a few words at the upper or wider part thereof: this trial, however, proved unsuccesstul, the deaf man not being