Percy, Thomas

Percy, Thomas D.D., a noted English scholar, and a prelate of the Irish Church, was the son of a grocer at Bridgenorth, in Shropshire, where he was born, April 13. 1728. He affected to be considered of the noble house of Percy, or it has been affected for him; but his better and surer honor is that he was the maker of his own fortunes, and by his valuable writings and the honorable discharge of his episcopal duties reared for himself a high and permanent reputation. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and early in life obtained the vicarage of Easton Mauduit, on which he resided, and the rectory of Wilby. In 1769 he became chaplain to the king; in 1778 dean of Carlisle; and in 1782 was elevated to the bishopric of Dromore, in Ireland. Long before this he had begun his literary career by the publication of what purports to be a translation from the Chinese of a novel, together with other matters connected with the poetry and literature of that people. This is a translation by him from a Portuguese manuscript. It was soon followed by another work, entitled Miscellaneous Pieces relating to the Chinese. He next published translations from the Icelandic of five pieces of Runic poetry. These appeared in 1761, 1762, and 1763. In 1764 he published A New Version of Solomon's Song, with a Commentary and Notes — an elegant version and useful commentary, in which the Song of Songs is considered chiefly as a celebration of the earthly loves of Solomon: the book has become exceedingly scarce. In 1765 he published a Key to the New Testament, which has been reprinted several times. In the same year, 1765, appeared the work by which he is, however, best known, and which is indeed one of the most elegant and pleasing works in the whole range of English literature, to which he gave the title of Reliques of Ancient English

Poetry. It contains some of the best of the old English ballads, many very beautiful lyrical pieces by the poets of the Elizabethan period and the age immediately succeeding, a few extracts from the larger writings of the poets of those periods, and a few lyrical pieces by modern writers. Each piece is well illustrated. It has been many times reprinted. From the time of this publication dates the revival of a genuine feeling for true poetry among the English people. To Percy himself it secured the successive promotions which he enjoyed in the Church. In 1770 he printed the Northumberland Household Book, and a poem, the subject of which is connected with the history of the Percy family, called The Hermit of Warkworth. In the same year appeared his translation, with notes, of The Northern Antiquities, by M. Mallet. The assistance which he gave to other authors is often acknowledged by them, and especially by Mr. Nichols, in several of his works. When Percy became a bishop he thought it his duty to devote himself entirely to his diocese. He resided from that time almost constantly at the palace of Dromore, where he lived greatly respected and beloved. After a life in the main prosperous and happy, he tasted of some of the afflictions of mortality. In 1782 he lost an only son. His eyesight failed him, and he became at length totally blind. He died at the palace of Dromore September 30, 1811. The memory of bishop Percy has been honored by the foundation of a literary association called the Percy Society.

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