Martin Farquhar Tupper - Encyclopedia

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MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER (1810-1889), English writer, the author of Proverbial Philosophy, was born in London on the 17th of July 1810. He was the son of Martin Tupper, a doctor, who came of an old Huguenot family. He was educated at Charterhouse and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained a prize for a theological essay, Gladstone being second to him. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, but never practised. He began a long career of authorship in 1832 with Sacra Poesis, and in 1838 he published Geraldine, and other Poems, and for fifty years was fertile in producing both verse and prose; but his name is indissolubly connected with his long series of didactic moralisings in blank verse, the Proverbial Philosophy (1838-1867), which for about twenty-five years enjoyed an extraordinary popularity that has ever since been the cause of persistent satire. The first part was, however, a comparative failure, and N. P. Willis, the American author, took it to be a forgotten work of the 17th century. The commonplace character of Tupper's reflections is indubitable, and his blank verse is only prose cut up into suitable lengths; but the Proverbial Philosophy was full of a perfectly genuine moral and religious feeling, and contained many apt and striking expressions. By these qualities it appealed to a large and uncritical section of the public. A genial, warm-hearted man, Tupper's humane instincts prompted him to espouse many reforming movements; he was an early supporter of the Volunteer movement, and did much to promote good relations with America. He was also a mechanical inventor in a small way. In 1886 he published My Life as an Author; and on the 29th of November 1889 he died at Albury, Surrey.

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