Nahum Tate

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Tate, Nahum, Poet Laureate to William III, was born in Dublin about 1652. [His father, Faithful Teate, D.D., minister of St. Werburgh's, Dublin, was the author of Sermons, and minor works, published between 1655 and 1672.] Soon after taking his degree at Trinity College, Dublin, Nahum Tate removed to England, where he resided the rest of his life. In 1692 he was appointed Poet Laureate. According to Harris's Ware, "he was a man of learning, had a winning, affable behaviour, and a good share of wit." Conjointly with Dr. Brady, he wrote a metrical version of the Psalms, which was until lately in general use by the Established Church. The poet Dryden selected him to continue his Absalom and Achitophel. Tate spent the latter part of his life in reduced circumstances, and died a prisoner for debt in London, 6th August 1715. His poetry excelled rather in quantity than quality, and his name is not even included in Johnson's Lives of the Poets.

Charles Knight says: "There is an English word-joiner-author we will not call him- who has had the temerity to accomplish two things, either of which would have been enough to have conferred upon him a bad immortality. Nahum Tate has succeeded, to an extent which defies all competition, in degrading the Psalms of David and the Lear of Shakspere to the condition of being tolerated, and perhaps even admired, by the most dull, gross, and anti-poetical capacity. These were not easy tasks; but Nahum Tate has enjoyed more than a century of honour for his labours, and his new version of the Psalms are still sung on (like the shepherd in Arcadia piped) as if they would never be old, and his Lear was the Lear of the playhouse at the time of the publication of our first edition, with one solitary exception of a modern heresy in favour of Shakspere."

Sources

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

254. Notes and Queries (3). London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.

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