Versifier and theologian. Son of the vicar of Mareham-le-Fen, Henry Shepherd (d. 1764). A fellow of Corpus Christi College since 1757, where he received his M.A. (1757), B.D. (1765) and D.D. (1788). Author of Odes Descriptive and Allegorical (1761), The Nuptials; a didactick poem ( 1761), a translation from Greek of Polyænus's Stratagems of War (1793), and many other, mostly theologian works now totally forgotten. He was Archdeacon of Bedford from 1783 and Rector of Wetherden and Helmingham from 1792 until his death.
He was of the opinion that "[the ode] is built intirely upon Fancy, and Ease and Simplicity of Diction are its peculiar Characteristicks."1 The Nuptials was a poem in three books on principles governing happy marriage, described by Dwight L. Durning in 1964 as "a monumental bore".2
Gentleman's Magazine printed a fairly detailed biography and bibliography of Shepherd upon his death in 1809.3
- 1Quoted from Havens, R. (1922)The Influence of Milton on English Poetry.
- 2In Durling, Dwight L. (1964) Georgic Tradition in English Poetry, p. 114
Boswell had read extracts from Odes Descriptive and Allegorical in The Scots Magazine in 1762 or 1761, and almost coincidentally recalled that the author was a fellow at Oxford. So, on April 25, 1763, he requested a meeting with Mr Shepherd, who showed up, in accordance with Boswell's request, at the Blue Boar Inn (where Boswell was staying) at 11 at night. They got on well, and Shepherd intended to "cultivate an acquaintance with [Boswell]" - they don't appear to have met or corresponded again, however.
When Boswell had first read an extract of Shepherd's Odes Descriptive and Allegorical he had found that nobody was acquainted with the man. Boswell took this as a good sign. He is almost equally unknown today. Some extracts of his Odes can be found in Chapin's 1955 book Personification in Eighteenth-Century English Poetry, and other extracts from both The Nuptials and Odes are in Havens, R. (1922) The Influence of Milton on English Poetry. All are available via AbeBooks.