Thomas Parnell (1679-1718)

Life
[Dr. Parnell;] ed TCD, MA 1700; minor canon of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, 1704; archdeacon of Clogher, Co. Tyrone, 1706-16; friendly with Swift and other mbrs. of Tory party; lived at Glasnevin in Dublin; contrib. occasional allegorical poems to the Spectator and Guardian, 1712-13; DD, Dublin 1712; aided Pope’s translation of the Iliad, contributing an introductory Essay on Homer; vicar of Finglas, 1716; pieces incl. The Hermit, and The Fairy Tale, both revised by Pope; collected edn. 1721; also Works, ed. Aldine (1894). RR CAB ODNB JMC ODQ DIW DIB OCEL FDA OCIL

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Works
  • An Essay on Different Styles of Poetry (1713), rep. in Robert Mahony, ed., Different Styles of Poetry, Verse by Lord Roscommon, Thomas Parnell, and Jonathan Swift [Irish Writings from the Age of Swift, Vol. VII] (Dublin: Cadenus Press 1979);
  • Poems on Several Occasions (London 1747) [infra];
  • Claude Rawson & F. P. Lock, eds., Collected Poems of Thomas Parnell (Delaware UP; Assoc. Univ. Presses 1980), 717pp.

Bibliographical details
Poems on Several Occasions / Written by Dr. Thomas Parnell, Late Arch-Deacon of Clogher, and Published by Mr. Pope [Dignum laude Virum Musa vetat mori. Hor.] To which is added the Life of Zoikus and His Remarks on Homer;s Battle of the Frogs and Mice (London: Printed for H. Lintot, J. & R. Tonson & S. Draper MDCCXLVII [1747]), 279pp. + index. [Copy of George Noble Plunkett in PGIL.]

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Criticism
Oliver Goldsmith, Life of Parnell (1770); C. J. Rawson, ‘Swift’s Certificate to Parnell’s Posthumous Works’, in Modern Languages Review, 57 (1962), pp.179-82.

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Commentary
Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, ed., George Watson (OUP Edn. 1964, 1989), “Glossary” [recte by R. L. Edgeworth]: ‘By the by, Parnell, who shewed himself so deeply “skilled of faerie lore”, was an Irishman; and though he has presented his faeries to the world in the ancient English dress of “Britain’s Isle, and Arthur’s days”, it is probable that his first acquaintance with them began in his native country.’ (p.106.)

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W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1984), notes that Thomas Parnell, archdeacon and friend of Pope, helped the latter with preliminary research for his Iliad, and wrote the introductory essay “On the Life and Writings and Learning of Homer” for Pope’s Iliad, producing a translation of his own for the pseudo-Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice [165]. On Pope’s debt to Parnell, see M. Mack, et al. eds., The Poems of Alexander Pope (London 1667), vii-x; also H. J. Zimmermann, Zur Alexander Popes Noten zu Homer (Heidelberg 1966).

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Maurice Craig, review of An Essay on Different Styles of Poetry (1713), rep. in Different Styles of Poetry, Verse by Lord Roscommon, Thomas Parnell, and Jonathan Swift, ed. Robert Mahony (Cadenus 1979), remarking that essay was not included in 1721-22 edition of his poems or the 1758 posthumous works; further, ‘it is easy to see why [...] not very inspired and spoiled by [...] political propaganda’.

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References
Oxford Book of 18th Century Verse gives “A Hymn to Contentment”, “Song” [‘... so strangely you dazzle my eye!’]; “A Night Piece on Death”, from Poems on Several Occasions [p. 155ff].

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Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), notes that Swift secured his promotion to Finglas archdeanery; Poems on Several Occasions (1772), and The Hermit (rpt. 1894) were long popular. Wrote intro. to Pope’s Iliad. Justin McCarthy, Irish Lit., gives extracts from ‘A Night Piece on Death’ and ‘A Hymn to Contentment’. Oxford Literary Guide to the British Isles cites introductory essay to Iliad, ‘Night Piece on Death’; ‘Hymn to Contentment’; and ‘The Hermit’. See also Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, pp.460-62.

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Oxford Companion to English Literature (ed. Margaret Drabble), cites Goldsmith’s Life of Parnell (1770) and mentions that most of his works were published posthumously by Pope.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, selects “Song” [‘When thy Beauty appears / In its Graces and Airs, / All bright as an Angel new dropt from the Sky / At distance I gaze, and am aw’d by my Fears, / So strangely you dazzle my eye! / ..your Love ... darts from your Eyes pants in your Heart / then I know you’re a Woman again ... she reply’d ... Still an Angel appear to each Lover beside, / But still be a Woman to you’, from Poems on Several Occasions, 467; BIOG, 497, Parnell frequently visted Swift in London and was elected to the Scriblerus Club; Pope edited his poems, and Goldsmith wrote a life published with his poems in an edition of 1770. [Life & Bibl. as supra.]

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A. N. Jeffares & Peter Van de Kamp, eds., Irish Literature: The Eighteenth Century - An Annotated Anthology (Dublin/Oregon: Irish Academic Press 2006), gives “Song” [119]; “Song” (‘When thy beauty appears ...’) [120]; “A Night-Piece on Death” [120].

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