William Dunkin (?1709-65)


Life
[1706-07; rev. date, NDNB] b. Dublin; ed. TCD, MA 1732; ordained 1735; Swift secured for him a larger share of the value from a property donated to the college by his aunt as an allowance; served as Latin master at St. Michael de la Pole, Dublin; Swift unsuccessful in securing the living of Coleraine for him; appointed by Chesterfield (when Viceroy) to post of headmaster of Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, 1746 [var. 1749], which he held till his death; Swift wrote of him, ‘he is a gentleman of much wit, and the best English as well Latin poet in the Kingdom [Ireland]’;
 
Swift himself thought to be author of his Vindication of the Libel; poems incl. The Parson’s Revels’, Carbery Rocks in the County of Cork’, and On the New Bridge Built on the East Side of Dublin’, others works of wit include Boeotia (1747); The Art of Gate-Passing; or, The Murphaeid (1934), mock-heroic study of a TCD porter who claims to be descended from the Kings of Ireland; The Political Mirror; Select Poetical Works of the Late William Dunkin, D.D., 2 vols. (Dublin 1769-70); thought to rank with Swift and Pope in Dublin Journal obit. ODNB PI DIW DUB OCIL FDA

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Works
  • A Vindication of the Libel on Dr. Delany, and a certain great Lord. Together with A panegyric on Dean Sw--t; in answer to the Libel. To which is added I: The said libel on Dr. Delany, &c. II: Dr. Delany’s epistle which occasion’d it. III: An epistle on an epistle; or a Christmas-box for Dr. Delany (London: re-printed for J. Wilford. And sold at the pamphlet shops M.DCC.XXX [1730]) 27,[1]pp., 8o. [see details];
  • [Anon.], Technethyrambeia: or, a poem upon Paddy Murphy, porter of Trin. Coll. Dublin. Translated from the original in Latin (Dublin: printed and sold by Edward Waters 1728), 12pp., 8o.; and Do. [...] Translated from the original in Latin by Joseph Cowper (Dublin 1730 ), 15[1]pp., 8vo. [var. as Technethyrambeia: sive poëma in Patricium Murphæum ... Authore Gulielmo Dunkin, A.B (Dublinii: ex officina Georgii Faulkneri, 1730), 15, [1]pp., 8o.;
  • The Vice-Roy: A Poem. To his Grace the Duke of Dorset [Lionel Cransfield Sackville] / By the Revd. William Dunkin, A.M (Dublin: George Faulkner 1735), 19, [1]pp., 4o.;
  • The conclave dissected: or, The character of the F[ellow]s of T[rinit]y C[olleg]e ([Dublin]: [1725]), broadside ½ sh. [29.7cm.]; dated from fellows names; authorship attributed to “Ph-pps & Dun-can” in Advice from fairyland (Dublin 1726), with MS identifications; Bradshaw 4194];
  • An Ode, to be perform’d at the Castle of Dublin, on the 1st of March 1729-30. Being the birth-day of ... Queen Caroline, &c. (Dublin: George Ewing 1730), 7pp., 4o., and Do. [...] By the special command of His Grace the Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. […] Set to musick by Mr. Matthew Dubourg (Dublin: printed by S. Powell for George Ewing 1734), 8pp., 4o.;
  • A Proclamation from Parnassus, &c. ([Dublin] 1734), 11pp., 8o.;
  • The Lover’s Web: A Poem inscribed to the Lady Caroline Sackville / By William Dunkin, M.A (Dublin: George Faulkner, in Essex-Street, opposite to the Bridge M,DCC,XXIV [1734]), 16pp., 4o.;
  • An account of a strange and wonderful apparition lately seen in Trinity-College, Dublin; Or, A dialogue between a poet and his grandmother’s ghost (Dublin 1734), 12pp., 12o. [satire on Charles Carthy’s translation of Horace];
  • Mezentius on the Rack ([Dublin] 1734), 23pp., 12o. [continuation of Dunkin’s satire on Charles Carthy, “An account of a strange and wonderful apparition ... &c. ”];
  • The Scall’d Crow’s Nest: A Very Old Tale ([Dublin:] printed by ?Thos. Slater [1734]), [2]pp. [see details];
  • Epistola ad Franciscum Bindonem, arm. cui adjiciuntur quatuor odæ / Authore Gulielmo Dunkin, A.M. (Dublinii: typis Georgii Faulkneri 1741), 56pp., 8o. [incls. with separate titlepage “An epistle to Francis Bindon Esq; to which are added An ode to ... John Earl of Orrery. ... Translated ... by different hands”];
  • Boeotia: A Poem [The Story of Daphne]: Humbly addressed to his Excellency Philip Earl of Chesterfield / By the Rev. William Dunkin, D.D (Dublin: George Faulkner 1747), 12pp., 8vo.;
  • The Bramin: An Eclogue. To Edmund Nugent, Esq. / by the Revd. Mr. Dunkin (London: R. Baldwyn […] 1751), 14pp., 4o.;
  • Carmen in obitum ... Frederici, Walliae principis, autore Gulialmo Dunkin, D.D. [Ode on the death of ... Frederick, Prince of Wales / translated from the Latin original, by the author] (Dublin: George Faulkner […] 1752), 23, [1]pp., 8vo.;
  • Remarks on an Ode on the death of his Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales. The ode by W. Dunkin. Remarks by P[aul] H[iffernan] M.D. [With the text of the ode.] (Dublin 1752), 8o.;
  • An Epistle to the Right Honourable Philip Earl of Chesterfield: To which are added, Lawson’s obsequies: an eclogue. By William Dunkin, D.D (Dublin: George Faulkner 1759), 57,[3]p ., 8o.;
  • Select Poetical Works of the late William Dunkin, D.D., in 2 vols. (Dublin: W. G. Jones 1769-70), 8o. [rep. on microfilm - Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications, Inc., 1986; 35mm., 1 reel: The Eighteenth Century, Reel 5448, No. 9);
  • The Poetical Works of the late William Dunkin, D.D: to which are added his epistles etc. to the late Earl of Chesterfield, Vol. I (London: printed for W. Nicoll; sold by T. Becket 1774), 463pp., 4o.
Reprints
  • The Parson’s Revels / A Poem in Three Cantos / to Robert Nugent Esq. / Written in the Year 1748, notes by Catherine Skeen (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2010), 147pp.
  • Selected Poetical Works of the Late William Dunkin, D.D., in Two Volumes [Literature and Language Ser.] (Ecco q.d.)

Open Library holds —
  • An epistle to the Right Honourable Philip Earl of Chesterfield (1759) [3 edns.]
  • A curry-comb of truth for a certain dean (1736), 8pp.
  • Technethyrambeia (1730)
Go online; last accessed 01.09.2011.

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A vindication of the libel on Dr. Delany, and a certain great Lord. Together with A panegyric on Dean Sw--t; in answer to the Libel. To which is added I: The said libel on Dr. Delany, &c. II: Dr. Delany’s epistle which occasion’d it. III: An epistle on an epistle; or a Christmas-box for Dr. Delany (London: re-printed for J. Wilford. And sold at the pamphlet shops M.DCC.XXX [1730]) 27,[1]pp., 8o. [attributed to William Dunkin; ‘Five poems in all, by various authors’ (Foxon). Contents: Vindication of the libel on Dr Delany / William Dunkin; Panyegyric on Dean Sw--t / Jonathan Swift; Libel on Dr. Delany / Jonathan Swift; Epistle to his Excellency John, Lord Carteret / Patrick Delany; Epistle on an epistle / Jonathan Swift]; and Do., Also, A Vindication of the Libel: or, a new ballad;: written by a Shoe-Boy, on an Attorney, who was formerly a Shoe-Boy. [i.e. Hartley Hutchinson. By William Dunkin?] ([Dublin] 1729-30), s.sh.fol. [microfilm: British Library, 1 reel( 305fr.), 35 mm. (a c). Neg: PB.Mic.22898. Pos: Mic.A.19860].

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The Scall’d Crow’s Nest: A Very Old Tale ([Dublin:] printed by ?Thos. Slater [1734]), [2]pp., ½ sh. [33.7cm.; Foxon S127 notes attribution to Swift by [F. Elrington] Ball, questioned by Williams who relates it to the verse war between Charles Carthy and William Dunkin [in] 1734; rep. in S-t contra omnes [1736] ‘In antient days, as sages write,/The time and place are lost in night’; Dublin printer conjectured from watermark “T.S.”]

See also The Battle of the Bards: A Poem. (Dublin 1734), 8pp., 8o [A satire on Charles Carthy, James Delacourt, William Dunkin and “S-n”; Virgilii Maronis Opera (Dublinii: e Typographia Academiae 1745) [Dunkin listed as ‘former owner’ with George Berkeley, John Dryden, Samuel Madden, William Bedell Stanford [1910-1984] et al.; copy in TCD Library.]

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Criticism
  • Joseph C. Day, ‘William Dunkin, “Best Poet” in the Kingdom? A New Look at his Augustan Burlesque’ [MA thesis] (NUI 1978);
  • Bryan Coleborne, ‘Jonathan Swift and the Dunces of Dublin’ [PhD thesis] (National University of Ireland 1982);
  • Andrea von Dietrick, ‘Satirsche Techniken in den personlichen Schmähschriften de Dubliner University Wits, Delacourt, Carthy, Dunkin, Philips’ [unpub. Staatsexamen thes.] (Univ. of Berlin 1985);
  • Terry Eagleton, ‘The Hidden Dunkin’, in Crazy John and the Bishop (Cork UP 1998), pp.1-16 [see extract].

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Commentary
W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (1984), An eighteenth century curiosity is Technthyrambeia (1730), a long mock-epic on a porter in TCD by William Dunkin, a fluent versifier in many languages, who was headmaster of Portora, 1746-67.

Terry Eagleton, ‘The Hidden Dunkin’, in Crazy John and the Bishop (Cork UP 1998): ‘To his contemporaries, Dunkin's best-known work was probably The Art of Gate-Passing, or The Murphaeid (1729), the most popular poem in Dublin for generations. Written in Latin – the facing English translation is now suspected not to be Dunkin's own – it is a paean of satiric praise to one Paddy Murphy, under-porter of Trinity College, and so, for a neo-classical poet, a distinctly “low” subject of composition, however mock-heroically handled. Lowness, however, is in the nature of Dunkin's writing, and he begins The Murphaeid with an appeal to James Thomson, whose Muse, as the English translation has it, did not blush “to sing the sordid plains / And lowly cottages of rural swains”. The mythological Murphy, custodian of the college gate and scourge of errant undergraduates, is presented as a model of the simple-hearted, unambitious Stoic, in a standard Horatian contrast of luxury and frugality. This praise of simplicity is of course conventional enough; but though Dunkin has his tongue in his cheek, his poetry in general really does back the lowly against the mighty, whatever the calculated incongruity with which it deploys high-toned imagery to do so. He is, however, nothing if not protean: his writing, comments Bryan Coleborne, “combines intellectual and formal discipline with remarkable freedom and flexibility of language”. [Editorial remarks, Field Day Anthology, 1991, vol. I, p. 396]. Thus, having introduced Murphy as a simple-lifer, Dunkin then switches stylistic gear and re-models him as a figure of sublime Gothic terror. The poem is on one level little more than an undergraduate squib, a knockabout, showily erudite effort with a subcurrent of rather callow japery to it; but its linguistic control is nonetheless impressive, and it delivers some scorching satire of the educational establishment. / The Murphaeid's blending of high style and humble subject-matter is a typical feature of burlesque, a form in which Dunkin was well practised. It is a common enough literary mode for its time, but there is something about its mock-seriousness which might be said to speak specifically to Irish conditions. From Swift and Sterne to Joyce, O'Casey, Beckett and Flann O'Brien, the pokerfaced guying of portentous learning is a consistent motif of Anglo-Irish writing. A rhythm of inflation and deflation (literally so in the case of Swift's puffed-up Aeolists), of edifying discourse and crude debunkery, seems peculiarly suited to a society in which a lineage of high learning sits cheekby-jowl with the dinginess of everyday life. [...]’ (p.2.)

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Bryan Coleborne, ‘“They Sate in Counterview”, Anglo-Irish Verse in the Eighteenth Century’, in Irish Writing, Exile and Subversion, ed. Sean Hyland & Neil Sammells (Macmillan 1991), pp.45-63: gives an account of ‘The Parson’s Revels’, long poem in his Select Poetical Works (1770, with characters Father Fegan who says ‘Gaad blish King Gaarge and his Lutterians’ immediately after declaring his Catholic identity, and quarrels with Presbyterian Denison; harper O Murphy, a ‘Bard as eloquent as Crown, or Durfy, who stands up to Presbyterian landlord Oaf; O Murphy is caused to celebrate the battle of the Boyne with Irish music to loyalist toasts [p.50]. Further, In his The Art of Gate-Pa[s]sing, or, the Murphaeid (1728), mock-heroic widely read in Dublin, describes in one section battle of wits between Paddy Murphy, the porter, and students (p.53).

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Andrew Carpenter, ‘Changing Views of Irish Musical and Literary Culture in Eighteenth-centry Anglo-Irish Literature’, inIrish Literature and Culture, ed. Michael Kenneally (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1992), p.13-14: ‘“The Parson’s Revels” … a fine but neglected Anglo-Irish poet who, though he was Swift’s protegé and was once described by Swift as the best Latin or English poet in Ireland, is seldom read today. The poem describes a riotous party, taking place outside a country house somewhere in Ireland and involving Presbyterian farmers, a Church of Ireland parson, and many Catholics including the robust Father Fagan. Murphy, the blind harper, is been called upon to tune his harp and entertain the gathering. Murphy’s fallen status – a mere itinerant musician though descended from noble bards - is explained and when Oaf, a presbyterian farmer, tries to attack Murphy on the grounds that he is a rebel and a papist, Murphy gives him a stout reply in heavily accented Hiberno-English. … The moment, though it may seem primarily comic, is an interesting one in Irish cultural history. The bard is finally driven … to sing in celebration of the very destroyers of the culture from which he springs.’; quotes 75 lines of of tetrameter; ‘This Murphy, strolling up and down, / Had been a harper of renown, / A Bard as eloquent as Crown, / Or Durfy. // About O Neal he kept a pother, / For why, he was his foster-brother, / Begotten on a base-born mother / A Spinster. / But, though reduc’d to live by strings, / Greater than great O Neal he brings / His father’s blood from antient kings / Of Leinster. [&c.]’ (Select Poetical Works of the Late William Dunkin, D.D., 2 vols., Dublin 1769-70, pp.45-49; Carpenter, p.13.)

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Quotations
The Modish School-Master”: ‘[...] Gentlemen, and ladies fair, / - is a special air, / Most commodious for your boys, / Free from all the daily noise, / And the vices of the town; / Prithee sent them hither down. / Dublin, barring all disasters, / Has too many idle masters: / I may say, without aspersions, / They mind only their diversions. // As for me, you need not fear, / I'm not absent thrice a year. / Then I have a short, unknown, / Charming method of my own. /// I DESPISE the musty rules, / Practised in your city-schools. / Others dig, to lay foundations / For their future habitations; / But, indignant of a prop, I begin my house a-top. // GRAMMAR is but fit for slaves, / Laws were only made for knaves. / Link your asses with your collars, / I shall never yoke my scholars: / They shall want no other model, / Than what issues from this noddle. [...; &c.] (Anthologised in A. N. Jeffares & Peter Van de Kamp, eds., Irish Literature: The Eighteenth Century - An Annotated Anthology, Dublin: IAP 2006, p.191.)

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References
Alfred Webb, Compendium of Irish Biography (1878): ‘Dunkin, William , D.D., a friend of Swift and Delany (one of the witnesses to the former's will), was gratuitously educated at Trinity College, to which a relative of his had bequeathed an estate. He was probably of the family of the Rev. Patrick Dunkin, whose metrical Latin translations of some Irish ranns are acknowledged by Archbishop Ussher. He was ordained in 1735 - in which year we find him repaying Swift's friendship and patronage by assisting him in his poetical controversy with Bettesworth. In 1737 Swift endeavoured to obtain for him an English living, writing of him: “He is a gentleman of much wit, and the best English as well as Latin poet in the kingdom. He is a pious man, highly esteemed.“ This appeal was fruitless; Dunkin was, however, placed by Lord Chesterfield over the Endowed School of Enniskillen. He died about 1746. A collected edition of his poems and epistles appeared in 2 vols. in 1774.’

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See also Tony Bareham, “William Dunkin”, in The New Dictionary of National Biography (OUP 2004) and Linde Lunney, “William Dunkin”, in the Dictionary of Irish Biography (Dublin: RIA 2008).

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: literary skirmishes in student days; joined Swift’s circle, late 1730s; taught St Michael-le-Pole, Dublin, and headmaster Portora, Enniskillen, 1746; d. Dublin; most underrated poet of 18th c. Ireland. Works, Select Poetical Works, 2 vols. (Dublin 1769-70); The Poetical Works of William Dunkin, 2 vols. (London 1774). FDAI, 395 [The Murphiaed full of Graeco-Roman references; 399, [his] school master or parson]; 403 [‘The Modish School-master [‘Well! said Hopkins on the lurch / When a coffin pass’d his church ..’]; from The Murphaeid (note explains that Paddy M. was a TCD porter fond of tracing his ancestor to the Ó Morphy [‘Not thou, Priapus, who are set to fright / The timid birds by day, and thieves by night / Cans’t half infuse the panic, though a God / That Freshmen suffer from his angry nod’]; 408 [‘Character of a Good Parson’, after Chaucer]; 417 [‘The Poet’s Prayer’, a literary satire on Cibber, Gay, Curl [printer], Budgell [Ir. MP], Pope, et al.]; 439 [first came to attention in the verse warfare of the Dublin Grub Street in the 1730s, but his reputation now rests substantially on his long poems, such as The Parson’s Revels, published in the second vol. of The Selected Poetical Works (1770); a burlesque narrative set at a feast of a country squire, it employs the device of assembling a set of characters who represent the different forces at work in contemporary Anglo-Irish society; the worldly unscupulous Father Fegan, who clashes with the presbyterian Denison, and the harper O’Murphy who clashes with another presbyuterian, the landlord Oaf; both priest and harper boast of their lineage as they proclaim their Irish identity, whereas Fr Fegan has come to his own accomodation with the ascendancy saying ‘Gaad blish king Gaarge and his Lutterians’; O’Murphy performs ‘against his heart’ as he cunningly celebrates the Willimate victory]; 444 [‘Carbery Rocks ... Cork’ [cf. Swift], a topographical poem; 445, extract from ‘The Parson’s Revels’, cantos [‘But enters now the Parish Priest / Who was by Patrick and by Chreest / As great a wolf, as ever fleec’d / The laity.’] [Commentary as supra].

A. N. Jeffares & Peter Van de Kamp, eds., Irish Literature: The Eighteenth Century - An Annotated Anthology (Dublin/Oregon: Irish Academic Press 2006) selects “The Modish School-Master” [190; supra].

Biog. dictionaries: Dictionary of Ulster Biography, ed. Kate Newmann (Belfast: QUB / IIS 1993), and D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912) list Techethrymabeia, poem on P. Murphey in Latin and English (Dub. 1734); Epistola ad Francisum Bindonum, etc. (1740-); Poems and Epistles (1774); Boeotia, poem (1747), The Brahim, eclogue (1751 Lon); Ode on Death of ... Prince of Wales (Dublin 1752); Epistle to ... Lord Chesterfield (1759, expanded 1774).

Notes
Namesake: A William Dunkin is listed as former owner of the Irish Agricultura Magazine (1799) [held in TCD]

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