« AnteriorContinuar »
MEMOIR OF E. H. BARKER.
THE subject of this memoir, EDMUND HENRY BARKER, now for some years deceased, was one of the most singular characters of the last generation. Possessing a natural bias towards books, he availed himself of the opportunities which accident threw in his way, and succeeded in making him. self the most thorough book-worm of the nineteenth century. As an author, he is no longer heard of : though many volumes issued from the press under his name, it is not unlikely that he may become better known by the present postumous publication, than by all the works which were printed du. ring his life-time. The reader will presently be told where the ANECDOTES AND REMINISCENCES contained in this volume were found, and on what grounds he may rely on their authenticity.
Mr. Barker was born in December, 1788, at Hollym vicarage near Patrington, Yorkshire, of which his father, the Rev. R. Barker, was the incumbent. The advowson of the living belonged to the family, and the Rev. C. Barker, brother of Edmund Henry, is still vicar of Hollym.
I am informed by a mutual friend, that Mr. Barker, when a boy, used to mix without reserve in all the sports and amusements which were common amongst the lads of Yorkshire, his schoolfellows and companions. This gentleman first met him with his brother Charles at a party given by the Rev. John Rigby, vicar of St Mary's, Beverley, and knew him intimately from that time until his death.
In 1807, Edmund Henry Barker entered, as a pensioner, at Trinity college, Cambridge, of which he afterwards became a Scholar. At this college he went through the regular course of study, prescribed by the rules of the University; but he never took a degree, for, though he was the son of a clergyman, he is said to have entertained some religious scruples, which would not allow him to take the usual bachelor's oath, and the University of Cambridge, more liberal than Oxford in allowing all persons, of whatever persuasion, to study within her walls, by a singular perverseness, forbids them to take a degree, even though they have deserved it, though this is practically the only benefit which results from receiving an University education
That Mr Barker possessed classical and literary talents greatly superior to the average of University students, is evident from the fact of his having gained medals for the best Greek and Latin epigrams, given by the University. He was instigated to compete for these prizes by his friend, George Pryme Esq., who has since been elected Member of Parliament for the borough of Cambridge.
If these epigrams had been followed up by other productions in poetry of similar style and equal merit, his muse would speedily have attained the highest point of estimation and be might have been classed among the first epigrammatists of the day.* But I have never heard that Mr Barker was tempted by this success again to woo the Muse of poetry; content with the more humble medium of prose, he left the University and entered upon a hardworking,
• These epigrams were printed separately in a small pamphlet of two leaves; translations of them will be found in this volume : the epigrams are as follows.
IN CURIA CANTARBIGIENSI
A. D. 1809.
TRIN. COLL. SCHOL.
ΑΡΧΗ ΗΜΙΣΥ ΠΑΝΤΟΣ.
* Πορφυρέου ποταμοίο παρ' όχθαις, δυσχερές άθλον
Καίσαρ εν ευβούλοις δηρόν έβαλλε φρεσίν.
Εύελπις δε τέλος πάσι φίλοισιν έφη,
* " Puniceus Rubicon,” Luc. Pharsal. Luc. lib, i. 213,
pains-taking career of drudgery, in which he, unlike most men, displayed more learning than prudence, and by the unceasing industry of liis life, if we may judge from its results, made ample compensation for its brevity.
Shortly previous to his leaving the University, Mr A. J. Valpy started the Classical Journal, to which Mr Barker was a constant contributor during the twenty years of its publication. His first article appeared in No 3, and nearly every succeeding Number exhibited either his sign anual, or some anonymous article, that carried with it internal evidence of his being the author, from the numerous extracts from writers but little known; and, by a similar test, it is easy to trace his contributions to the British Critic, previous to its change from a monthly to a quarterly periodical, and more recently in the pages of the Monthly Magazine during the editorship of Mr Reynolds.
On leaving the University, in 1810, or soon after, Mr B. went to reside with Dr Parr at Hatton, where he re
* Δεινός ανερρίφθω κύβος • +” (αρχή δ' ήμισυ παντός)
"Έσπεθ' άμ’ οί νίκη, θεσπέσιόν τε κράτος. + Vide Plut. in Vit. Cæs.