Mason, William

Mason, William an English divine of some note, son of the vicar of St. Trinity Hall, was born in 1725; was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, and made fellow of Pembroke College in 1747. In 1754 he took holy orders, became rector of Aston, Yorkshire, chaplain to the king, and was for thirty-two years precentor and canon residentiary of York. He died in 1797. His published works, both secular and religious, are chiefly in poetry, among which are Essays, Historical and Critical, on English Church Music (1795, 12mo). He also published Memoirs of Thomas Gray (1775, 4to). Mason was regarded by his contemporaries as a poet of more than ordinary genius, but the lack of classical culture prevented his rise. There is a tablet to his memory in Poet's Corner, in Westminster Abbey. His style is, to a great extent, that of an imitator of Gray; and, not being so perfect an artist in language as his master, he has been proportionally less successful. In addition to his poetical reputation, he possessed considerable skill in painting and music, and on the latter subject entertained opinions not at all consonant with those of musicians in general. He wished to reduce Church music to the most dry and mechanical style possible, excluding all such expression as should depend on the powers and taste of the organist (Mason's Compendium of the History of Church Music). See Memoir of Mason in Johnson and Chalmer's English Poets (1840, 21 vols. 8vo); Chalmer's Biog. Dict. s.v.; Blackwood's Mag. 30:482; 26:553; Allibone, Dict. Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.

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