« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
M E MO I R.
may say that he
EDWARD, eldest son of John Bradford Coples
ton, rector of Offwell, in the county of Devon, was born at Offwell on the 2nd of February, 1776, and was educated by his father until he arrived at the age of fifteen. Of his early boyhood, no particular notices have been preserved; nor have I any anecdotes to give of that precocity in intellect, which has sometimes proved not less fallacious as to future hopes than marvellous for the present: but with such allowance as a poet's words require, I
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one. The sapling tree, gathering strength, "occulto ævo,' was marked and transplanted at a very early age: for in 1791 we find Edward Copleston elected a scholar of C.C.C., Oxford; and in 1793 he appears as the successful candidate for the Latin Verse Prize; thus winning his first public honours, and, as it chanced, reciting his poem, amidst the splendours of an installation—that of the Duke of Portland, chancellor of the university. The letter
in which he announced his success to his father has been preserved as a family relic, and is here given as a pleasing specimen of the artless and eager joy of the
scholar: My dear Father,
I am happy to inform you that your expectations with regard to my getting the university prize are verified. This morning I received the enchanting news, and I have taken the earliest opportunity of imparting it to you. Indeed, one of the greatest sources of pleasure to me from so distinguished an honour, is the thought of the satisfaction you will feel, as well as all the family. I have just been to Mr. Crowe, the public orator, who has paid me the most flattering compliments. I know you will excuse this slovenly and short letter, and impute it to the flurry of my spirits, which you will easily believe are rather agitated at so unexpected an event; and indeed it almost appears to me like a dream. I am so impatient that you should be informed of this, that I almost fancy every line I write retards your seeing my letter. And I am convinced no other intelligence after this can be any ways interesting to you. I will write again in a day or two, and be more particular ; at present, I can only add my duty and kindest love to my mother, love to my brothers and sisters,
And I am, my dear Father,
E. COPLESTON. A MS. book, containing this prize poem Marius in Tugurio ruinarum Carthaginiensiumtogether with some other college exercises of no slight merit, now lies before me. Nor is it trivial to remark upon the extreme neatness and beauty of the writing, because, when this manner is uni
formly preserved, as in the bishop's case, through life, we prognosticate, without the aid of the graphiologist, clear thought and methodical accuracy. To write intelligibly, was indeed matter of principle with Bishop Copleston; and that any person, able to handle a pen, should habitually do otherwise, he thought showed some degree of arrogance, or else of selfish carelessness.
Let me further mention, as a pleasing trait, that this early MS. book contains a careful transcript of a Latin verse exercise, written by the bishop's younger brother, then of the age of sixteen, and living at home with his father.
An old friend and contemporary of the bishop, when a scholar at C. C. C., has kindly sent me the following specimen of his youthful muse, not unworthy to be classed with Milton's Latin effusions at the same age. The lines were written at Offwell, during a vacation, and sent to his friend by post, his age being then seventeen.
Sæpe ego vicinâ cùm nuncius urbe rediret
(Unde refert quicquid poscit ab urbe domus)
Adveniat tandem littera facta manu.
Et magis a votis cedere visa meis;
Inter amicorum semper habende chorum,
Felices profers lætus et ipse jocos;
Demere de solido spernis ut antè die;
Sepositâque omni (namque hoc est vivere) curâ
Appetis extremâ non nisi nocte toruni :-
Gaudet in adversis numen adesse bonæ)
Aufugit ardenti pulsa dolore quies,
Vexat adhuc variam pustula multa cutem ;-
Amplius ignavos non sinis ire dies,
Confisus propriis viribus alta petis,
Personet eloquium Sheldoniana tuum ; (Nam te nec pigræ semper succumbere menti
Exstiterit quamvìs hactenus iste pudor, Nec te crediderim ingenio quandò tibi tali
Di dederunt, paucis quale dedêre frui, Desidiam infamem potiùs sine fine fovere
Quam petere ingenio præmia digna tuo) Quicquid agis, responsa rogo. Si Musa negârit;
Ne pete, quærenti quod tibi Musa negat; Te verò curasque tuas sermone pedestri,
Et reliqui quid agant, fac mihi charta ferat. Intereà (invitâ si sit, mî ignosce, Minervâ)
Versiculos, præsens quos tulit hora, dabo: Nec mirêre precor, flatus si Crassior Austri
Spiret Hyperboreis duriùs auriculis, Aut sese incultis Cantata Devonia Musis
Jactet, et agrestes tantùm amet illa modos. Vive meo nunquàm memori elapsurus amore
Et, quod nunc volo se sic et habere, vale.
Offwell, Nov. 24, 1796.
ELECTED FELLOW OF ORIEL.
For some few years, the path of the younger followed close upon that of the elder brother,John succeeding to the scholarship which Edward vacated when elected fellow of Oriel. And although in after-life there grew a wide difference between their respective stations and fortunes, yet did the same affectionate interest in each other's welfare, of which this MS. book whispers, continue with increasing warmth throughout their course. The successful prizeman was not an unlikely person to be elected fellow at any college; yet I should not be doing full justice to the subject of
memoir by simply recording the fact that, in the year 1795, he was elected into that college which he afterwards so much adorned. The circumstances under which he was elected were very remarkable; for whereas, in ordinary cases, the candidates present themselves and solicit permission to be admitted to the lists, here, in this case, after examination of a number of competitors, among whom young Copleston was not included, the provost and fellows of Oriel sent for him to C. C. C., and invited him to be chosen into their society. We may well conjecture that, at this early day, there were indications of a character and intellect promising things beyond the éclat of a verse-prize. Nor was it long before these indications were in part made good: for in the next year, his probationary year at Oriel, Mr. Copleston was graced with the riper and more solid honours of the English Essay. The subject of it-Agriculture—was one of national