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Le Grice, Charles Valentine (DNB00)


LE GRICE, CHARLES VALENTINE (1773–1858), friend of Coleridge and Lamb, was the eldest son of Charles Le Grice, the descendant of an old Norfolk family, who held in 1773 the living of St. James, Bury St. Edmunds. Though suspected of heresy, and considered to have been 'persecuted' for his opinions, he afterwards obtained the rectory of Wickhampton, Norfolk, and Thwaite in Suffolk. He died on 27 April 1792; his widow, Sophia Anne, survived until 21 May 1830. Valentine, the eldest of eight children, received that name through his birth at Bury St. Edmunds on 14 Feb. 1773. He was founder's kin to Thomas Guy [q. v.], and on 6 March 1781 was nominated by the governors of Guy's Hospital for admission to Christ's Hospital, where he was 'clothed,' i.e. actually admitted, on 23 April 1781, and remained until October 1792, when he was the senior 'Grecian.' Here he was for nine years class-fellow of, and sat side by side with, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was even more friendly with Charles Lamb, and on the school holidays found a home in Lamb's family. Leigh Hunt, another of the boys at the hospital, makes mention in his 'Autobiography' (ed. 1860, pp. 73–4) of him and of his younger brother Samuel, who was admitted in April 1783, and after a short life of folly obtained a commission in the 60th foot and died in Jamaica in 1802. Prom the committee minutes of the hospital in January and October 1793 it appears that Valentine, like his brother, was indiscreet in speech and restless under discipline. He was, however, permitted to proceed to Trinity College, Cambridge, and received an allowance from the hospital. He was admitted sizar of Trinity on 16 June 1792, became scholar of the college on 17 April 1795, and graduated B.A. 1796, M.A. 1806. At the end of his freshman's year he was in the first class with Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards master of Trinity, and when he won the chief declamation prize, a silver cup, the second place was gained by Wordsworth.

Shortly after taking his degree Le Grice went to Cornwall — 'cutting.' says Lamb, 'Miss Hunt completely' — as tutor to William John Godolphin Nicholls of Trereife, near Penzance, only son of Mary Ustick, widow of William Nicholls. In ; 1798 he was ordained, and in the following year he married his pupil's mother. Young Nicholls died from 'ossification of the body' on 9 May 1815, aged 26, and on his mother's death on 22 Nov. 1821 the family property came to Le Grice, as mother and son had cut off the entail. For several years he gratuitously undertook the duties at St. Mary's Church, Penzance, and was appointed incumbent on 31 July 1806, retaining it, his sole preferment in the church, until June 1831. As a clergyman Le Grice opposed with great ardour the views of Bishop Phillpotts ; but the statement that he was 'prohibited preaching in the diocese of Exeter' is not correct. The rest of his life was passed on his property at Trereife. He died there on 24 Dec. 1868, and was buried at Madron.

Le Grice during his long life threw off a number of small pieces in verse and prose, the titles of which fill several pages of the 'Bibliotheca Cornubiensis,' but none of them did justice to his wit and talents. The chief of them are : 1. ' An Imitation of Horace's First Epistle.' 1793, 1824, and 1860. 2. 'The Tineum.' 1794. 3. 'A Prize Declamation in Trinity College Chapel on Richard Cromwell,' 1796. 4. 'Analysis of Paley's Philosophy,' 1796 ; 8th ed. 1822. 6. 'A General Theorem for A * * * * * * Coll. Declamation, by Gronovius.' 1796 and 1836. 6. 'Daphnis and Chloe, translated from the Greek of Longus.' 1803. A translation of this work, based on that of Le Grice, was published in 1890. 7. 'Petition of an Old Uninhabited House in Penzance to its Master in Town.' 1811 ; 3rd ed. 1868.

Lamb, in his essay on 'Christ's Hospital' (Elia, ed. Ainger, p. 30), refers to the 'wit combats ' between Coleridge and Le Grice, comparing Coleridge to the Spanish galleon and the other to an English man-of-war; and in the 'Grace before Meat' (ib. p. 137) mentions Le Grice as 'that equivocal wag, but my pleasant schoolfellow.' Le Grice furnished Talfourd with some interesting particulars of the early part of Lamb's life, which were embodied in Talfourd's memoir, and Carew Hazlitt asserts that Lamb's taste for punning was inspired by his admiration for Le Grice's skill in that direction. The 'College Reminiscences of Coleridge.' contributed by Le Grice to the 'Gentleman's Magazine'—in which paper his effusions appeared for more than sixty years—were reprinted in 1842 and included in Carlyon's Early Years.' 1843. One of the last journeys made by Southey was to visit his old acquaintance Le Grice at Trereife. The poet Wordsworth subsequently received a short visit from Le Grice at Grasmere. A story showing the frolicsome spirit which sometimes brought Le Grice into trouble is in Henry Gunning's 'Reminiscences.' ii. 7–9; and an epigram of congratulation from him on Sedgwick's appointment to a canonry in Norwich Cathedral is in Sedgwick's 'Life.' i. 436.

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. i. 311–314, iii. 1266–7, 1432; Boase's Collect. Cornub. pp. 486–7; Gent. Mag. (by the Rev. Henry Penneck), 1859, i. 322–4; Carew Hazlitt's Mary and Charles Lamb, p. 161; C. Wordsworth's Social Life at English Univ. (1874), pp. 175, 589–92, 666; Crabb Robinson's Diary, ed. 1869, iii. 111–12; Lamb's Letters, ed. Ainger, i. 2–6; information from Mr. A. W. Lockhart of Christ's Hospital, Mr. W. Aldis Wright of Trinity Coll. Cambridge, and Mr. Arthur Burch of Exeter.]

W. P. C.