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Y AL DE N.
THOMAS YALDEN, the sixth son of Mr. John Yalden of Sussex, was born in the city of Exeter in 1671. Having been educated in the grammar school belonging to Magdalen College in Oxford, he was in 1690, at the age of nineteen, admitted commoner of Magdalen Hall, under the tuition of Joseph Pullen, a man whose name is still remembered in the university. He became next year one of the scholars of Magdalen College, where he was distinguished by a lucky accident.
It was his turn, one day, to pronounce a declamation; and Dr. Hough, the president, happening to attend, thought the composition too good to be the speaker's. Some time after, the doctor, finding him a little irregularly busy in the library, set him an exercise for punishment; and, that he might not be deceived by any artifice, locked the door. Yalden, as it happened, had been lately reading on the subject given, and produced with little difficulty a composition which so pleased the president, that he told him his former suspicions, and promised to favour him.
Among his contemporaries in the college were Addison and Sacheverell, men who were in those times friends, and who both adopted
Yalden to their intimacy. Yalden continued, throughout his life, to think as probably he thought at first, yet did not lose the friendship of Addison.
When Namur was taken by king William, Yalden made an ode. There was never any reign more celebrated by the poets than that of William, who had very little regard for song himself, but happened to employ ministers who pleased themselves with the praise of patronage.
Of this ode mention is made in an humo. rous poem of that time, called The Oxford Laureat; in which, after many claims had been made and rejected, Yalden is represented as demanding the laurel, and as being called to his trial, instead of receiving a reward His crime was for being a felon in verse,
And presenting his theft to the king; The first was a trick not uncommon or scarce,
But the last was an impudent thing: Yet what he had stol'n was so little worth
stealing, They forgave him the damage and cost; Had he ta’en the whole ode, as he took it
piece-mealing, They had fin’d him but ten-pence at most. The poet whom he was charged with robbing was Congreve.
He wrote another poem on the death of the duke of Gloucester.
In 1710 he became fellow of the college; and next year, entering into orders, was presented by the society with a living in War. wickshire, consistent with his fellowship, and chosen lecturer of moral philosophy, a very honourable office.
On the accession of queen Anne he wrote another poem; and is said, by the author of the Biographia, to have declared himself of the party who had the honourable distinction of High-churchmen.
In 1706 he was received into the family of the duke of Beaufort. Next year he became doctor in divinity, and soon after resigned his fellowship and lecture; and, as a token of his gratitude, gave the college a picture of their founder.
He was made rector of Chalton and Cleanville, two adjoining towns and benefices in Hertfordshire ; and had the prebends, or sinecures, of Deans, Hains, and Pendles in Devonshire. He had before been chosen, in 1698, preacher of Bridewell Hospital, upon the resignation of Dr. Atterbury.
From this time he seems to have led a quiet and inoffensive life, till the clamour was raised about Atterbury's plot. Every loyal eye was on the watch for abettors or partakers of the horrid conspiracy; and Dr. Yalden having some acquaintance with the bishop, and being fa. miliarly conversant with Kelly his secretary, fell under suspicion, and was taken into cuf.
Upon his examination he was charged with a dangerous correspondence with Kelly. The correspondence he acknowledged; but maintained, that it had no treasonable tendency. His papers were seized; but nothing was found that could fix a crime upon him, except two words in his pocket-book, thorough-paced doctrine. This expression the imagination of his examiners had impregnated with treason, and the doctor was enjoined to explain them. Thus pressed, he told them that the words had lain unheeded in his pocket-book from the time of queen Anne, and that he was ashamed to give an account of them ; but the truth was, that he had gratified his curiosity one day, by hearing Daniel Burgess in the pulpit, and those words was a memorial hint of a remarkable sentence by which he warned his congregation to beware of thorough-paced doctrine, that doctrine, which, coming in at one ear, paces through the head, and goes out at the other.
Nothing worse than this appearing in his papers, and no evidence arising against him, he was set at liberty.
It will not be fupposed that a man of this character attained high dignities in the church; but he still retained the friendship, and enjoyed the conversation, of a very numerous and splendid body of acquaintance. He died July 16, 1736, in the 66th year of his age.
Of his poems, many are of that irregular kind, which, when he formed his poetical character, was supposed to be Pindarick. Having fixed his attention on Cowley as a model, he has attempted in some sort to rival him, and has written a Hymn to Darkness, evidently as a counter-part to Cowley's Hymn to Light.
This hymn seems to be his best performance, and is, for the most part, imagined with great vigour, and expressed with great propriety. I will not transcribe it. The seven first stanzas are good; but the third, fourth, and seventh are the best: the tenth is exquisitely beautiful; the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, are partly mythological, and partly religious, and