Meen, Henry (DNB00)


MEEN, HENRY (d. 1817), classical scholar, a native of Norfolk, was entered as a sizar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on 9 Oct. 1761, and graduated B.A. 1766, M.A. 1769, and B.D. 1776. He became a fellow of his college (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. pt. iv. p. 28). Having been ordained in the English church, he was appointed to a minor canonry in St. Paul's Cathedral; instituted to the rectory of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, with St. Nicholas Olave, London, on 30 April 1792; and collated on 13 Nov. 1795 as prebendary of Twyford in St. Paul's Cathedral, where he also held the office of lecturer. He obtained no other preferment, and these posts left him ample time for literary pursuits. He died at the rectory, Bread Street Hill, London, 3 Jan. 1817, aged 72. The title of ‘Little Meen’ was applied to him by George Steevens, who described him as ‘confused and irregular in all his undertakings,’ possessing much learning but lacking method and constancy of application, so that he was ‘always employed without doing anything.’

Meen published, while an undergraduate, a poem in blank verse, called ‘Happiness, a Poetical Essay,’ London, 1766, which he afterwards wished his friends to forget. In 1780 he ‘revised, corrected, and completed, as coadjutor and editor,’ the unfinished translation of Apollonius Rhodius, by the Rev. Francis Fawkes [q. v.], and superintended its publication for the widow's benefit. To it he annexed his own independent version of the ‘Rape of Helen, or the Origin of the Trojan War,’ by Coluthus, which was afterwards included in the ‘Works of the Greek and Roman Poets’ (vol. v.), the ‘British Poets’ (vol. lxxxviii.), and in the collections of Anderson (vol. xiii.) and of Chalmers (vol. xx.). His other works were ‘A Sermon before the Association of Volunteers,’ 1782; ‘Remarks on the Cassandra of Lycophron,’ 1800, and ‘Succisivæ Operæ, or Selections from Ancient Writers, with Translations and Notes,’ 1815. Gilbert Wakefield describes him as ‘pacific, gentle, unassuming,’ and speaks of him in his ‘Correspondence with Charles James Fox,’ p. 177, as having studied the writings of Lycophron more than any man living. When Meen told Dr. Parr that he purposed undertaking an edition of Lycophron's works, Parr severely remarked that ‘many books have been well edited by men who were no scholars.’ His criticisms on Lycophron appeared in the ‘European Magazine’ from 1796 to 1813, but his complete translation was never published, and was sold with his books and manuscripts by Sotheby on 17 March 1817 and four following days. He corrected the proofs of Bishop Percy's ‘Blank Verse before Milton,’ a work which was destroyed in the fire at the printing-office of Messrs. Nichols, and was employed to collect and pass through the press a volume of poems, entitled ‘Alonzo and Cora,’ by Mrs. Elizabeth Scot of Edinburgh, which came out in 1801. J. P. Malcolm, when engaged in compiling the ‘Londinium Redivivum,’ obtained through Meen permission to consult the archives of St. Paul's Cathedral. Many letters from him to Bishop Percy are in Nichols's ‘Illustrations of Literature’ (vii. 38–68).

[Gent. Mag. 1817, pt. i. pp. 86–7; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 443; Barker's Parriana, vol. i. p. xxxi, and ii. 636–7; Nichols's Illustr. of Literature, vii. 6–68; Malcolm's Lond. Redivivum, vol. i. Pref. pp. ii, iv, 546–8; information from the Rev. Dr. Phear, Emmanuel Coll. Cambr.]

W. P. C.