Thomas Parnell

Parnell, Thomas, Archdeacon of Clogher, a poet, was born in Dublin in 1679. At thirteen he entered Trinity College; in 1700 he was ordained a deacon, and in February 1705-6 was appointed Archdeacon of Clogher. Towards the end of Queen Anne's reign Parnell changed his politics from Whig to Tory, and was received by the Ministry as a valuable ally. He was very popular as a preacher in London; but the Queen's death putting an end to his expectations of preferment, he is represented by Pope to have fallen into intemperate habits. He lost his wife in 1712. In 1716, through Swift's influence, he was appointed to the vicarage of Finglas, worth £400 a year.

Dr. Johnson remarks: "Such notice from such a man inclines me to believe that the vice of which he has been accused was not gross, or not notorious." He enjoyed his preferment little more than a year, dying at Chester on return from a visit to London, in July 1717, aged 38. He was buried in Trinity Church, Chester. He was the author of a Life of Homer, numerous essays in the Guardian and Spectator, and some poems. These latter do not appear to have been published until 1722, when they were edited by his friend Pope. They have since seen numerous editions. It is said that the last, that of 1758, contains several pieces which are not of his writing.

Dr. Johnson thus criticises Parnell as a poet: "The general character of Parnell is not great extent of comprehension, or fertility of mind. Of the little that appears, still less is his own. His praise must be derived from the easy sweetness of his diction; in his verses there is more happiness than pains; he is sprightly without effort, and always delights, though he never ravishes; everything is proper, yet everything seems casual. If there is some appearance of elaboration in 'The Hermit' the narrative, as it is less airy, is less pleasing." "I can pass," says Campbell, "from the elder writers, and still find a charm in the correct and equable sweetness of Parnell."


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

118. Ecclesiae Hiberniae Fasti: Rev. Henry Cotton: Indices by John R. Garstin, M.A. 5 vols. Dublin, 1851-'60.

198. Johnson's English Poets: Edited by Alexander Chalmers. 21 vols. London, 1810.

288. Poets aud Dramatists of Ireland: Denis F. MacCarthy. Dublin, 1846.