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 Laurence Eusden

Laurence Eusden

Birth
Spofforth, Harrogate Borough, North Yorkshire, England
Death 27 Sep 1730 (aged 41–42)
Coningsby, East Lindsey District, Lincolnshire, England
Burial Coningsby, East Lindsey District, Lincolnshire, England
Plot unmarked
Memorial ID 12524290 · View Source
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Poet. He was Poet Laureate of England from 1718 until his death. A minor talent, he gained the title through flattery and is better remembered for being satirized by Alexander Pope and others. The son of a Yorkshire vicar, Eusden was baptized at Spofforth on September 6, 1688. He graduated MA from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1712, was awarded a fellowship there, and took holy orders. For several years he was chaplain to Richard Lord Willoughby de Broke. Not content with life as a scholar or clergyman, he began writing laudatory verse to attract attention and important patrons, among them author-publisher Joseph Addison. His sentimental tribute to one of Addison's plays, "To a Lady that Wept at Hearing Cato Read" (1714), was mocked by Pope in the epigram "On a Lady who Pisst at the Tragedy of Cato", but he succeeded in ingratiating himself with Whig politicians and members of the nobility. In 1718 he turned out a hymn celebrating the marriage of Thomas Pelham-Holles, Lord Chamberlain and Duke of Newcastle, who rewarded him with the laureateship on the death of Nicholas Rowe in December of that year. Addison endorsed the choice. Eusden's appointment was criticized as a flagrant example of politics trumping merit and from then on his annual odes to the Royal Family were greeted with derision. Pope included him as a dunce in the original version of "The Dunciad" (1728). Stung by all the invective, Eusden retreated to Lincolnshire to become rector of St Michael & All Angels Church in Coningsby. He died at 42, reputedly from alcoholism. In a private letter after Eusden's death Pope referred to him as "a drunken sot of a parson", and he provided a scornful epitaph in the final version of "The Dunciad" (1743): "Know, Eusden thirsts no more for sack or praise; He sleeps among the dull of ancient days". Eusden never published a book of poetry and his one ambitious project, a translation of Tasso's epic "Jerusalem Delivered", was left unfinished. On the rare occasions when his poems appeared in anthologies the accompanying editor's notes were either defensive or dismissive in tone. His place among England's Poets Laureate has one distinction at least: at age 30 he was the youngest person to receive the honor, a record he still holds. "Selected Writings of the Laureate Dunces" (1999) linked Eusden with Colley Cibber and Nahum Tate, two other poets attacked by Pope in "The Dunciad".

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mark McManus
  • Added: 27 Nov 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12524290
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Laurence Eusden (Sep 1688–27 Sep 1730), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12524290, citing St. Michael & All Angels Churchyard, Coningsby, East Lindsey District, Lincolnshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .