Moss, Thomas

(1740-1808)
   Not much is known of this poet but that he graduated B.A. in 1761 from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and after taking holy orders he was a minister in several parishes in Staffordshire and Worcestershire. In 1769 he published Poems on Several Occasions. The first poem is the heart-wrenching and popular "Beggar's Petition" to which Jane Austen refers in Chapter 1 of Northanger Abbey. Of Catherine Morland, Austen says, "Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the "Beggar's Petition"; and after all, her next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did." The 26 stanzas written in 1766 tell the tale of bereavement and near-starvation. The beggar appeals to William Pitt (the Elder, the Earl of Chatham), who became prime minister in 1766, to alleviate the burden of the poor.
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. The Beggar's Petition (poem) by Thomas Moss (http://www.pemberley.com/litcomp/beggar.html). The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse. Roger Lonsdale, ed. Oxford University Press, 1984. The New Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse. Alastair Fowler, ed. Oxford University Press, 1991.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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