The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753)
Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Leah Moser and PG Distributed Proofreaders
GREAT BRITAIN and IRELAND.
By Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands. VOL. IV.
MDCCLIII. VOLUME IV.
Contains the LIVES OF
Dawes Arch. York
Granville L. Lansdowne
Philip D. Wharton
* * * * *
Dedicated to the Right Honourable PHILIP Earl of CHESTERFIELD.
Correctly printed in a neat Pocket Volume (Price Bound Three
The Second Edition of
LES MOEURS; or, MANNERS. Accurately Translated from the French.
Wherein the Principles of Morality, or Social Duties, viz. Piety,
Wisdom, Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, Love, Friendship,
Humanity, &c. &c. are described in all their Branches; the Obligations
of them shewn to consist in our Nature, and the Enlargement of them
strongly enforc'd. Here Parents are taught, that, giving Birth to
a Child, scarcety entitles them to that honourable Name, without a
strict Discharge of Parental Duties; the Friend will find, there are a
thousand other Decorums, besides the doing of a Favour, to entitle him
to the tender Name of Friend; and the Good natur'd Man will find,
he ought to extend that Quality beyond the Bounds of his own
Neighbourhood or Party.
The Whole wrote in a manner entirely New and Entertaining, and
enliven'd with real Characters, drawn from life, and fited to instill
the Principles of all Social Virtues into tender Minds.
Printed for W. Johnston at the Golden-Ball in St. Paul's Church-Yard.
THE LIVES OF THE POETS.
* * * * *
A French gentleman, born and educated at Rohan, in Normandy. He came
over into England, was a considerable trader, and resided here many
years. He is said to have possessed no inconsiderable share of wit,
and humour; and, besides a translation of Don Quixote, several Songs,
Prologues and Epilogues, together with a Poem on Tea, dedicated to
the Spectator, (see Vol. VII. Numb. 552) he is author of the following
1. Love's a Jest, a Comedy; acted at the new Theatre, in little
Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, 1696. In the two scenes, where love is made a
jest, some passages are taken from Italian writers.
2. The Loves of Mars and Venus; a Masque set to Music, performed
at the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, 1696; dedicated to colonel
Codrington. The story from Ovid.
3. The Novelty, or every Act a Play; consisting of Pastoral, Comedy,
Masque, Tragedy, and Farce, after the Italian manner; acted at the
Theatre in little Lincoln's-Inn Fields 1697.
The model of this play is formed upon Sir William Davenant's
Play-House to be let: But neither of them met with much success.
4. Europe's Revels for the Peace, and his Majesty's Happy Return, a
Musical Interlude, performed at the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields,
5. Beauty in Distress, a Tragedy; acted at the Theatre in
Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, 1698. There is some poetry in this play; and in
the multiplicity of its incidents, he has followed the example of the
British Poets. Before this piece, there is prefixed a discourse on the
lawfulness or unlawfulness of plays; written originally in French,
by the learned father Cassaro, divinity professor at Paris; sent by a
friend to Mr. Motteaux.
6. The Island Princess, or the Generous Portugueze; made into an
Opera, and performed at the Theatre-Royal 1701. The music by Mr.
Daniel Purcell, Mr. Clark, and Mr. Leveridge. The greatest part of the
play is taken from Fletcher's Island Princess. Scene the Spice Island.
7. The Four Seasons, or Love in every Age; a musical Interlude, set to
Music by Mr. Jeremiah Clark; printed with the musical Entertainments
of the above Opera. 8. Britain's Happiness, a musical Interlude;
performed at both the Theatres, being part of the entertainment,
subscribed for by the nobility. Scene a prospect of Dover castle
and the sea. This Interlude was long before designed, only as an
introduction to an Opera; which if ever finished was to have been
called the Loves of Europe, every act shewing the manner of the
different nations in their addresses to the fair-sex; of which he has
informed us in his prefatory epistle.
9. Thomyris Queen of Scythia, an Opera; translated from the Italian;
performed at the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields.
10. The Temple of Love, a Pastoral Opera, from the Italian; performed
at the Queen's Theatre in the Hay-market, by her majesty's servants,
1706. Scene Arcadia. Time of action, the same with that of the
11. Love Dragoon'd, a Farce.
This gentleman, who seems to have led a very comfortable life, his
circumstances being easy, was unfortunate in his death; for he lost
his life in a disorderly house, in the parish of St. Clement Danes,
not without suspicion of having been murthered; which accident
happened to him, on his birth day in the 58th year of his age, 1718.
His body was interred in his own parish church, being that of St. Mary
Ax, in the city of London.
* * * * *
The celebrated authoress of the Atalantis, was born in Hampshire, in
one of those islands which formerly belonged to France, of which her
father Sir Roger Manley was governor; who afterwards enjoyed the same
post in other places in England. He was the second son of an ancient
family; the better part of his estate was ruined in the civil war by
his firm adherence to Charles I. He had not the satisfaction of
ever being taken notice of, nor was his loyalty acknowledged at the
restoration. The governor was a brave gallant man, of great honour and
He became a scholar in the midst of the camp, having left the
university at the age of sixteen, to follow the fortunes of Charles
I. His temper had too much of the Stoic in it to attend much to the
interest of his family. After a life spent in the civil and foreign
wars, he began to love ease and retirement, devoting himself to his
study, and the charge of his little post, without following the court;
his great virtue and modesty, debaring him from solliciting favours
from such persons as were then at the helm of affairs, his deserts
were buried, and forgotten. In this solitude he wrote several tracts
for his own amusement, particularly his Latin Commentaries of the
Civil Wars of England. He was likewise author of the first volume
of that admired work, the Turkish Spy. One Dr. Midgley, an ingenious
physician, related to the family by marriage, had the charge of
looking over his papers. Amongst them he found that manuscript, which
he reserved to his proper use, and by his own pen, and the assistance
of some others, continued the work till the eighth volume was
finished, without having the honesty to acknowledge the author of the
The governor likewise wrote the History of the Rebellion in England,
Scotland and Ireland; wherein the most material passages, battles,
sieges, policies, and stratagems of war, are impartially related
on both sides, from the year 1640, to the beheading of the duke of
Monmouth 1688, in three parts, printed in octavo, in the year 1691.
His daughter, our authoress, received an education suitable to her
birth, and gave very early discoveries of a genius, not only above her
years, but much superior to what is usually to be found amongst her
own sex. She had the misfortune to lose her mother, while she was
yet an infant, a circumstance, which laid the foundation of many
calamities, which afterwards befell her.
The brother of Sir Roger Manley, who was of principles very opposite
to his, joined with the Parliamentarian party; and after Charles I.
had suffered, he engaged with great zeal in the cause of those who
were for settling a new form of government, in which, however, they
were disappointed by the address of Cromwell, who found means
to transfer the government into his own hands, and in place of
instituting a republic, restored monarchy under another name, and
erected a tyranny as dangerous, perhaps, in its consequences, as
that which he had contributed to overthrow. During these heats and
divisions, Mr. Manley, who adhered to the most powerful party, was
fortunate enough to amass an estate, and purchased a title; but these,
upon the restoration, reverted back to the former possessor; so that
he was left with several small children unprovided for. The eldest of
these orphans, Sir Roger Manley took under his protection, bestowed
a very liberal education on him, and endeavoured to inspire his mind
with other principles, than those he had received from his father.
This young gentleman had very promising parts, but under the
appearance of an open simplicity, he concealed the most treacherous
hypocrisy. Sir Roger, who had a high opinion of his nephew's honour,
as well as of his great abilities, on his death-bed bequeathed to him
the care of our authoress, and her youngest sister.
This man had from nature a very happy address, formed to win much upon
the hearts of unexperienced girls; and his two cousins respected him
greatly. He placed them at the house of an old, out-of-fashion aunt,
who had been a keen partizan of the royal cause during the civil wars;
she was full of the heroic stiffness of her own times, and would read
books of Chivalry, and Romances with her spectacles.
This sort of conversation, much infected the mind of our poetess,
and fill'd her imagination with lovers, heroes, and princes; made
her think herself in an inchanted region, and that all the men who
approached her were knights errant. In a few years the old aunt died,
and left the two young ladies without any controul; which as soon as
their cousin Mr. Manley heard, he hasted into the country, to visit
them; appeared in deep mourning, as he said for the death of his wife;
upon which the young ladies congratulated him, as they knew his wife
was a woman of a most turbulent temper, and ill fitted to render the
conjugal life tolerable.
This gentleman, who had seen a great deal of the world, and was
acquainted with all the artifices of seducing, lost no time in making
love to his cousin, who was no otherwise pleased with it, than as
it answered something to the character she had found in those books,
which had poisoned and deluded her dawning reason. Soon after these
protestations of love were made, the young lady fell into a fever,
which was like to prove fatal to her life.
The lover and her sister never quitted the chamber for sixteen nights,
nor took any other repose than throwing themselves alternately upon a
little pallet in the same room. Having in her nature a great deal of
gratitude, and a very tender sense of benefits; she promised upon
her recovery to marry her guardian, which as soon as her health
was sufficiently restored, she performed in the presence of a maid
servant, her sister, and a gentleman who had married a relation. In a
word, she was married, possessed, and ruin'd.
The husband of our poetess brought her to London, fixed her in a
remote quarter of it, forbad her to stir out of doors, or to receive
the visits of her sister, or any other relations, friends, or
acquaintance. This usage, she thought exceeding barbarous, and it
grieved her the more excessively, since she married him only because
she imagined he loved and doated on her to distraction; for as
his person was but ordinary, and his age disproportioned, being
twenty-years older than she, it could not be imagined that she was in
love with him.--She was very uneasy at being kept a prisoner; but
her husband's fondness and jealousy was made the pretence. She always
loved reading, to which she was now more than ever obliged, as so
much time lay upon her hands: Soon after she proved with child, and
so perpetually ill, that she implored her husband to let her enjoy the
company of her sister and friends. When he could have no relief from
her importunity (being assured that in seeing her relations, she must
discover his barbarous deceit) he thought it was best to be himself
the relator of his villany; he fell upon his knees before her, with so
much seeming confusion, distress and anguish, that she was at a loss
to know what could mould his stubborn heart to such contrition. At
last, with a thousand well counterfeited tears, and sighs, he stabb'd
her with the wounding relation of his wife's being still alive; and
with a hypocrite's pangs conjured her to have some mercy on a lost
man as he was, in an obstinate, inveterate passion, that had no
alternative but death, or possession.
He urged, that could he have supported the pain of living without
her, he never would have made himself so great a villain; but when the
absolute question was, whether he should destroy himself, or betray
her, self-love had turned the ballance, though not without that
anguish to his soul, which had poisoned all his delights, and planted
daggers to stab his peace. That he had a thousand times started in
his sleep with guilty apprehensions; the form of her honoured father
perpetually haunting his troubled dreams, reproaching him as a traitor
to that trust which in his departing moments he had reposed in him;
representing to his tortured imagination the care he took of his
education, more like a father than an uncle, with which he had
rewarded him by effecting the perdition of his favourite daughter, who
was the lovely image of his benefactor.
With this artful contrition he endeavoured to sooth his injured wife:
But what soothing could heal the wounds she had received? Horror!
amazement! sense of honour lost! the world's opinion! ten thousand
distresses crowded her distracted imagination, and she cast looks upon
the conscious traitor with horrible dismay! Her fortune was in his
hands, the greatest part of which was already lavished away in the
excesses of drinking and gaming. She was young, unacquainted with the
world; had never experienced necessity, and knew no arts of redressing
it; so that thus forlorn and distressed, to whom could she run for
refuge, even from want, and misery, but to the very traitor that had
undone her. She was acquainted with none that could or would espouse
her cause, a helpless, useless load of grief and melancholy! with
child! disgraced! her own relations either unable, or unwilling to
Thus was she detained by unhappy circumstances, and his prevailing
arts to wear away three wretched years with him, in the same house,
though she most solemnly protests, and she has a right to be believed,
that no persuasion could ever again reconcile her to his impious arms.
Whenever she cast her eyes upon her son, it gave a mortal wound to her
peace: The circumstances of his birth glared full on her imagination;
she saw him, in future, upbraided with his father's treachery, and
his mother's misfortunes. Thus forsaken of all the world, in the
very morning of her life, when all things should have been gay, and
promising, she wore away three wretched years. Mean time her betrayer
had procured for himself a considerable employment; the duties of
which obliged him to go into the country where his first wife lived.
He took leave of his injured innocent, with much seeming tenderness;
and made the most sacred protestations, that he would not suffer her,
nor her child ever to want.
He endeavoured to persuade her to accompany him into the country, and
to seduce, and quiet her conscience, shewed her a celebrated piece
written in defence of Polygamy, and Concubinage: When he was gone,
he soon relapsed into his former extravagances, forgot his promise
of providing for his child, and its mother; and inhumanly left them
a prey to indigence and oppression. The lady was only happy in being
released from the killing anguish, of every day having before her eyes
the object of her undoing.
When she again came abroad into the world, she was looked upon with
cold indifference; that which had been her greatest misfortune, was
imputed to her as the most enormous guilt; and she was every
where sneered at, avoided, and despised. What pity is it, that an
unfortunate, as well as a false step, should damn a woman's fame!
In what respect was Mrs. Manley to blame? In what particular was she
guilty? to marry her cousin, who passionately professed love to her,
and who solemnly vowed himself a widower, could not be guilt; on
the other hand, it had prudence and gratitude for its basis. Her
continuing in the house with him after he had made the discovery,
cannot be guilt, for by doing so, she was prevented from being exposed
to such necessities as perhaps would have produced greater ruin. When
want and beggary stare a woman in the face, especially one accustomed
to the delicacies of life, then indeed is virtue in danger; and they
who escape must have more than human assistance.
Our poetess now perceived, that together with her reputation, she had
lost all the esteem, that her conversation and abilities might have
else procured her; and she was reduced to the deplorable necessity of
associating with those whose fame was blasted by their indiscretion,
because the more sober and virtuous part of the sex did not care
to risk their own characters, by being in company with one so much
suspected, and against whom the appearance of guilt was too strong.
Under this dilemma, it is difficult to point out any method of
behaviour, by which she would not be exposed to censure: If she had
still persisted in solitude, the ill-natured world would have imputed
to it a cause, which is not founded on virtue; besides, as the means
of support were now removed, by the perfidy of Mr. Manley, she must
have perished by this resolution.
In this case, the reader will not be much surprized to find our
authoress, under the patronage of the duchess of Cleveland, a mistress
of king Charles the IId's, who was justly reckoned one of the most
celebrated beauties of that age. Mrs. Manley was paying a visit to
a lady of her grace's acquaintance, when she was introduced into the
favour of this royal courtezan; and as the duchess of Cleveland was
a woman of parts and genius, she could not but be charmed with the
sprightliness of her conversation. She was fond of new faces, and
immediately contracted the greatest intimacy with our poetess, and
gave her a general invitation to her table. The lady at whose house
the duchess became acquainted with Mrs. Manley, soon perceived her
indiscretion in bringing them together; for the love of novelty so far
prevailed on the duchess, that herself was immediately discarded, and
the affection formerly bestowed upon her, was lavished on Mrs. Manley.
This procured our poetess an inveterate enemy; and the greatest blow
that was ever struck at her reputation, was by that woman, who had
been before her friend. She was not content to inform persons who
began to know and esteem Mrs. Manley, that her marriage was a
cheat; but even endeavoured to make the duchess jealous of her new
favourite's charms, in respect of Mr. Goodman the player, who at
that time had the honour of approaching her grace's person, with the
freedom of a gallant.
As the duchess of Cleveland was a woman of a very fickle temper,
in six months time she began to be tired of Mrs. Manley. She was
quarrelsome, loquacious, fierce, excessively fond, or downright rude;
when she was disgusted with any person, she never failed to reproach
them, with all the bitterness of wit she was mistress of, with such
malice, and ill-nature, that she was hated, not only by all the world,
but by her own children and servants: The extremes of prodigality,
and covetousness, of love, and hatred, of dotage, and fondness, met
in her. A woman of this temper will be at no loss for the means of
effecting any one's ruin, and having now conceived an aversion to our
poetess, she was resolved to drive her from her house, with as much
reproach as possible; and accordingly gave out, that she had detected
Mrs. Manley in an intrigue with her own son, and as she did not care
to give encouragement to such amours, she thought proper to discharge
her. Whether or not there was any truth in this charge, it is
impossible for us to determine: But if Mrs. Manley's own word may be
taken, in such a case, she was perfectly innocent thereof.
When our authoress was dismissed by the duchess, she was sollicited by
lieutenant-general Tidcomb, to pass some time with him at his country
seat; but she excused herself by telling him, she must be in love with
a man, before she could think of residing with him, which she could
not, without a violation of truth, profess for him. She told him her
love of solitude was improved, by her disgust of the world, and
since it was impossible for her to be public with reputation, she was
resolved to remain in it concealed.
It was in this solitude she composed her first tragedy, which was much
more famous for the language, fire, and tenderness, than the conduct.
Mrs. Barry distinguished herself in it, and the author was often heard
to express great surprize, that a man of Mr. Betterton's grave sense,
and judgment, should think well enough of the productions of a young
woman, to bring it upon the stage, since she herself in a more mature
age could hardly bear to read it. But as the play succeeded, she
received such unbounded incense from admirers, that her apartment
was crowded with men of wit, and gaiety. There is a copy of verses
prefixed to her play, said to be written by a very great hand which
What! all our sex in one sad hour undone?
Lost are our arts, our learning, our renown
Since nature's tide of wit came rolling down.
Keen were your eyes we knew, and sure their darts;
Fire to our soul they send, and passion to our heart!
Needless was an addition to such arms,
When all mankind were vassals to your charms:
That hand but seen, gives wonder and desire,
Snow to the fight, but with its touches fire!
Who sees thy yielding Queen, and would not be
On any terms, the best, the happy he;
Entranc'd we fancy all is extasy.
Quote Ovid, now no more ye am'rous swains,
Delia, than Ovid has more moving strains.
Nature in her alone exceeds all art,
And nature sure does nearest touch the heart.
Oh! might I call the bright discoverer mine,
The whole fair sex unenvied I'd resign;
Give all my happy hours to Delia's charms,
She who by writing thus our wishes warms,
What worlds of love must circle in her arms?
They who had a regard for Mrs. Manley could not but observe with
concern, that her conduct was such, as would soon issue in her ruin.
No language but flattery approached her ear; the Beaux told her, that
a woman of her wit, was not to be confined to the dull formalities of
her own sex, but had a right to assume the unreserved freedom of the
male, since all things were pardonable to a lady, who knew to give
laws to others, yet was not obliged to keep them herself. General
Tidcomb, who seems to have been her sincerest friend, took the
privilege of an old acquaintance to correct her ill taste, and the
wrong turn she gave her judgment, in admitting adulation from such
wretches, whose praise could reflect but little honour, and who would
be ready to boast of favours they never received, nor indeed ever
endeavoured to obtain.
This salutary council was rejected; she told him, that she did not
think fit to reform a conduct, which she reckoned very innocent;
and still continued to receive the whispers of flatterers, 'till
experience taught her the folly of her behaviour, and she lived to
repent her indiscretion.
Her virtue was now nodding, and she was ready to fall into the arms of
any gallant, like mellow fruit, without much trouble in the gathering.
Sir Thomas Skipwith, a character of gaiety of those times, and, who
it seems had theatrical connections, was recommended to her, as being
very able to promote her design in writing for the stage. This knight
was in the 50th year of his age, and in the 60th of his constitution,
when he was first introduced to her, and as he had been a long
practised gallant, he soon made addresses to her, and whether or no
this knight, who was more dangerous to a woman's reputation, than her
virtue, was favoured by her, the world was so much convinced of it,
that her character was now absolutely lost. Sir Thomas was a weak,
vain, conceited coxcomb, who delighted in boasting of his conquests
over women, and what was often owing to his fortune, and station in
life, he imputed to his address, and the elegance of his manner, of
both which he was totally destitute. He even published Mrs. Manley's
dishonour, and from that time our sprightly poetess was considered, by
the sober part of the sex, quite abandoned to all shame.
When her affair with this superannuated knight was over, she soon
engaged in another intrigue, still more prejudicial to her character;
for it was with a married man, one Mr. Tilly, a gentleman of the Law;
with whom she lived a considerable time: while he underwent at
home many of those severe lectures, which the just provocation, and
jealousy of his wife taught her to read him. Mrs. Tilly at last died,
and our gallant was left at his freedom to marry the object of his
passion; but unluckily his finances were in such a situation, that he
was obliged to repair them by marrying a woman of fortune. This was a
cruel circumstance; for he really loved, and doated upon Mrs. Manley,
and had the felicity of a reciprocal passion. She agreed however, in
order to repair his fortune, that he should marry a rich young widow,
whom he soon won by the elegance of his address, while our authoress
retired into the country to spend her days in solitude and sorrow, and
bid an everlasting farewel to the pleasures of love and gallantry.
Mr. Tilly did not many years survive this reparation: his life was
rendered miserable at home by the jealousy of his young wife, who had
heard of his affair with Mrs. Manley; he lost his senses, and died in
a deplorable situation.
During her retirement, our authoress, who had a most confirmed
aversion to the Whig ministry, wrote her Atalantis, which was meant as
a representation of the characters of some of those, who had effected
the Revolution. A warrant was granted from the secretary of state's
office, to seize the Printer and Publisher of these volumes. This
circumstance reduced the writer to a very troublesome dilemma; she
could not bear the thoughts that innocent people should suffer on her
account, and she judged it cruel to remain concealed, while they who
were only inferior instruments, were suffering for her. She consulted,
on this occasion, her best friend, general Tidcomb, who, after
rallying her for exposing people, who had never in particular injured
her, he advised her to go into France, and made her an offer of
his purse for that purpose. This advice she rejected, and came to
a determined resolution, that no person should ever suffer on her
account. The general asked her, how she should like to be confined in
Newgate? to which she answered, that she would rather lye in a prison,
after having discharged her conference, than riot in a palace under
its reproaches. The general upon this replied, that these things
sounded very heroic, but there was a great difference between real and
imaginary sufferings, 'that she had chosen to declare herself for the
Tories, a party, who never could keep their own, nor other people's
secrets, and were ever forgetful of such as served them; that the most
severe critics upon the Tory writings, were the Tories themselves, who
never considering the design, or honest intention of the author, would
examine the performance only, and that too with as much severity,
as they would an enemy's, and at the same time value themselves
upon being impartial against their friends. Then as to gratitude,
or generosity, the Tories did not approach to the Whigs, who never
suffered any man to go unrewarded, however dull, or insignificant,
provided he declared himself to be for them; whereas the Tories had no
general interest, and consequently no particular, each person refusing
to contribute towards the benefit of the whole; and if it should
happen, that she should perish, through want, in a Jail, they would
sooner condemn her folly, than pity her sufferings.'
This did not deter our poetess from voluntarily preferring herself
before the Court of King's Bench, as the author of the Atalantis.
When she was examined before the secretary (then lord Sunderland)
he was assiduous to know from whom she had got information of some
particulars, which they imagined were above her own intelligence. Her
defence was with much humility and sorrow, at the same time denying
that any persons were concerned with her, or that she had a farther
design than writing for her own amusement, and diversion in the
country, without intending particular reflexions, or characters; when
this was not believed, and the contrary urged against her by several
circumstances, she said, 'then it must be by inspiration, because
knowing her own innocence, she could account for it no other way.' The
secretary replied, 'that inspiration used to be upon a good account,
and her writings were stark naught.' She, with an air of penitence,
'acknowledged, that his lordship's observation might be true, but that
there were evil angels, as well as good, so that nevertheless what she
had wrote, might still be by inspiration.'
In consequence of this examination, our authoress was close shut up
in a messenger's house, without being allowed pen, ink, and paper.
However her council sued out her Habeas Corpus at the King's-Bench
Bar, and she was admitted to bail.
Whether those in power were ashamed to bring a woman to her trial,
for writing a few amorous trifles, or our laws were defective, as
was generally conjectured, because she had disguised her satire under
romantic names, and a feigned scene of action, she was discharged,
after several times exposing her in person, to cross the court before
the Bench of Judges, with her three attendants, the Printer, and two
Not long after this a total change of the ministry ensued,
the statesmen to whom she had been obnoxious were removed, and
consequently all her fears upon that score dissipated; her native
gaiety, and good humour returned, and she again employed herself in
writing a tragedy for the stage, and resolved never more to deal in
politics, as being much out of the natural sphere of a woman, she was
persuaded it was folly in one in her station, to disoblige any party
by a pen, equally qualified to divert all. Being advanced to the
autumn of her charms, she conversed with the opposite sex, in a manner
very delicate, sensible, and agreeable, and when she felt that time
had left his impression upon her brow, she did not court praise and
flattery. The greatest genius's of the times conversed freely with
her, and gave her daily proofs of esteem, and friendship, except Sir
Richard Steele, with whom it seems she was at variance; and indeed Sir
Richard sufficiently exposed himself by his manner of taking revenge;
for he published to the world that it was his own fault he was not
happy with Mrs. Manley, for which omission he publickly, and gravely
asked her pardon.
Those are the most material incidents in the life of our poetess; a
lady, who was born with high powers from nature, which were afterwards
cultivated by enjoying the brightest conversation; the early part of
her life was unfortunate, she fell a sacrifice to a seducer, who laid
the foundation for those errors she afterwards committed, and of those
sufferings she underwent; she had a high relish for the pleasures
of life; she was extremely susceptible of the passion of love, and
treated it with a peculiar vivacity.
Her dramatic works are
1. The Lover, or The Jealous Husband; acted at the Theatre-Royal 1696.
This play did not succeed in the representation.
2. The Royal Mischief, a Tragedy; acted by his Majesty's Servants
in the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields 1696. This was exhibited with
3. Lucius, the First Christian King of Britain, a Tragedy; acted
at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane by his Majesty's Servants, and
dedicated to Sir Richard Steele. She has written several poems, and
we shall select, as a specimen, an Epistle to the Countess of Bristol,
which will shew how much she possessed the power of delicate numbers;
she has also in print a volume of Letters, the second edition of which
was published in 1713. She died July 11, 1724.
To the Right Honourable the
Countess of BRISTOL.
Long had my mind, unknowing how to soar,
In humble prose been train'd, nor aim'd at more:
Near the fam'd sisters never durst aspire
To sound a verse, or touch the tuneful lyre.
'Till Bristol's charms dissolv'd the native cold;
Bad me survey her eyes, and thence be bold.
Thee, lovely Bristol! thee! with pride I chuse,
The first, and only subject of my muse;
That durst transport me like the bird of Jove,
To face th' immortal source of light above!
Such are thy kindred beams--
So blessings, with a bounteous hand they give,
So they create, and make creation live.
When charming Felton, of a beauteous race,
Adorn'd in blooming youth, with ev'ry grace;
First saw the lovely Suffolk Swain her prize,
The noblest conquest of the brightest eyes!
How many wretched nymphs that union made,
What cold despair the warmest hearts invade!
What crouds of lovers, hopeless and undone,
Deplore those charms which brought their ruin on!
Rich in themselves--all excellence they find,
Wit! beauty! wisdom! and a constant mind!
No vain desires of change disturb their joy;
Such sweets, like bliss divine, can never cloy:
Fill'd with that spirit which great souls inflame,
Their wondrous offspring start to early fame.
In their young minds, immortal sparkles rise!
And all their mother flashes from their eyes!
From thence such scenes of beauty charm the sight,
We know not where o fix the strong delight!
Hervey's soft features--next, Eliza bright!
Anna just dawning, like Aurora's light!
With all the smiling train of Cupids round,
Fond little loves, with flowing graces crown'd.
As some fair flowers, who all their bloom disclose,
The Spanish Jas'min, or the British Rose?
Arriv'd at full perfection, charm the sense,
Whilst the young blossoms gradual sweets dispense.
The eldest born, with almost equal pride;
The next appears in fainter colours dy'd:
New op'ning buds, as less in debt to time,
Wait to perform the promise of their prime!
All blest descendants of the beauteous tree,
What now their parent is, themselves shall be.
Oh! could I paint the younger Hervey's mind,
Where wit and judgment, fire and taste refin'd
To match his face, with equal art are join'd:
Oh best belov'd of Jove! to thee alone,
What would enrich the whole, he gives to one!
[A]In Titian's colours whilst Adonis glows,
See fairest Bristol more than Venus shows;
View well the valu'd piece, how nice each part;
Yet nature's hand surpasses Titian's art!
Such had his Venus and Adonis been,
The standard beauty had from thence been seen!
Whose arbitrary laws had fix'd the doom
To Hervey's form, and Bristol's ever bloom!
[B]As once Kazeia, now Eliza warms
The kindred-fair bequeath'd her all her charms;
Such were her darts, so piercing and so strong,
Endow'd by Phoebus both, with tuneful song;
But far from thee Eliza be her doom;
Snatch'd hence by death, in all her beauty's bloom.
Long may'st thou live, adorning Bristol's name,
With future heroes to augment his fame.
When haughty Niobe, with joy and pride,
Saw all her shining offspring grace her side;
She view'd their charms, exulting at each line,
And then oppos'd 'em to the race divine!
Enrag'd Latona urg'd the silver bow:
Immortal vengeance laid their beauties low.
No more a mother now--too much she mourn'd,
By grief incessant into marble turn'd.
But lovely Bristol, with a pious mind,
Owns all her blessings are from Heav'n assign'd.
Her matchless Lord--her beauteous numerous race!
Her virtue, modesty, and ev'ry grace!
For these, devoutly, to the gods she bows,
And offers daily praise, and daily vows:
Phoebus, well-pleas'd, the sacrifice regards;
And thus the grateful mother's zeal rewards:
'Beauty and wit, to all of Bristol's line!
But each in some peculiar grace shall shine!
Or to excel in courts, and please the fair!
Or Conquest gain thro' all the wat'ry war!
With harmony divine the ear to charm!
Or souls with more melodious numbers warm!
By wond'rous memory shall some excel
In awful senates, and in speaking well!
To hold Astraea's scales with equal hand,
And call back justice to that happy land!
To teach mankind how best the gods to praise!
To fix their minds in truth's unerring ways!
'Thus all her honours, Bristol's sons shall wear,
Whilst each his country's good shall make his chiefest care!'
[Footnote A: This is not designed as a parallel of the story, but the
painting from a piece of Titian's, at my lord Bristol's.]
[Footnote B: A sister of lord Bristol's, who was a lady of most
* * * * *
This Poet was born at Harley in Surry, in the year 1690, and educated
at a private school at Ryegate in the same county[A]. He was removed
from thence in 1705, and in 1708 accepted a small place in a public
office; where he continued the remainder of his days.
About this time contracting a friendship with a gentleman of a like
taste, who furnished him with proper books, he applied himself at
his intervals of leisure, to reading the dailies, and to the study
of logic, metaphysics, and the mathematics, with which last he was
peculiarly delighted. And in a few years by the force of his own happy
genius, and unwearied diligence, without the assistance of any master,
he acquired a considerable knowledge of the most difficult branches of
those useful and entertaining studies.
By so close an application, he contracted a violent pain in his head,
which notwithstanding the best advice, daily encreased. This, and
other unfortunate circumstances concurring, so deeply affected him,
who had besides in his constitution a strong tincture of melancholy,
that he was at last brought under almost a total extinction of reason.
In this condition he fell into a fever; and as there were before
scarce any hopes of him, it may be said to have happily put an end to
the deplorable bondage of so bright a mind, on the 21st of December,
1718, in the 29th year of his age. He was buried in the church of
Friendsbury, near Rochester.
Mr. Needler's life was influenced by the principles of sincere,
unaffected piety, and virtue.
On all occasions (says Mr. Duncomb) 'he was a strenuous advocate for
universal toleration and forbearance in matters of religion; rightly
supposing that no service can be acceptable to the supreme Being,
unless it proceeds from the heart; and that force serves only to make
hypocrites, but adds no new lights to the understanding. He was
modest to a fault, entertaining the most humble opinion of his own
performances; and was always ready to do justice to those of others.
His affection for his friends indeed sometimes biassed his judgment,
and led him to the commending their writings beyond their merit.'
In the volume of Mr. Needler's works, are printed some familiar
Letters, upon moral, and natural subjects. They are written with
elegance and taste; the heart of a good man may be traced in them
all, and equally abound with pious notions, as good sense, and
solid reasoning.--He seems to have been very much master of smooth
versification, his subjects are happily chosen, and there is a
philosophical air runs through all his writings; as an instance of
this, we shall present our readers with a copy of his verses addressed
to Sir Richard Blackmore, on his Poem, intitled The Creation.
Dress'd in the charms of wit and fancy, long
The muse has pleas'd us with her syren song;
But weak of reason, and deprav'd of mind,
Too oft on vile, ignoble themes we find
The wanton muse her sacred art debase,
Forgetful of her birth, and heavenly race;
Too oft her flatt'ring songs to sin intice,
And in false colours deck delusive vice;
Too oft she condescends, in servile lays,
The undeserving rich and great to praise.
These beaten paths, thy loftier strains refuse
With just disdain, and nobler subjects chuse:
Fir'd with sublimer thoughts, thy daring soul
Wings her aspiring flight from Pole to Pole,
Observes the foot-steps of a pow'r divine,
Which in each part of nature's system shine;
Surveys the wonders of this beauteous frame,
And sings the sacred source, whence all things came.
But Oh! what numbers shall I find to tell,
The mighty transports which my bosom swell,
Whilst, guided by thy tuneful voice, I stray
Thro' radiant worlds, and fields of native day,
Wasted from orb, to orb, unwearied fly
Thro' the blue regions of the yielding sky;
See how the spheres in stated courses roll,
And view the just composure of the whole!
Such were the strains, by antient Orpheus sung.
To such, Mufaeus' heav'nly lyre was strung;
Exalted truths, in learned verse they told,
And nature's deepest secrets did unfold.
How at th' eternal mind's omnisic call,
Yon starry arch, and this terrestrial ball,
The briny wave, the blazing source of light,
And the wane empress of the silent night,
Each in it's order rose and took its place,
And filled with recent forms the vacant space;
How rolling planets trace their destin'd way,
Nor in the wastes of pathless AEther stray;
How the pale moon, with silver beams adorn
Her chearful orb, and gilds her sharpened horns;
How the vast ocean's swelling tides obey
Her distant reign, and own her watr'y sway;
How erring floods, their circling course maintain,
Supplied by constant succours from the main;
Whilst to the sea, the refluent streams restore,
The liquid treasures which she lent before;
What dreadful veil obscures the solar light,
And Phaebe's darken'd face conceals from mortal sight.
Thy learned muse, I with like pleasure hear
The wonders of the lesser world declare,
Point out the various marks of skill divine,
Which thro' its complicated structure mine,
In tuneful verse, the vital current trace,
Thro' all the windings of its mazy race,
And tell hew the rich purple tide bestows,
Vigour, and kindly warmth where e'er it flows;
By what contrivance of mechanic art
The muscles, motions to the limbs impart;
How at th' imperial mind's impulsive nod,
Th' obedient spirits thro' the nervous road
Find thro' their fib'rous cells the ready way,
And the high dictates of the will obey;
From how exact and delicate a frame,
The channeled bones their nimble action claim;
With how much depth, and subtility of thought
The curious organ of the eye is wrought;
How from the brain their root the nerves derive,
And sense to ev'ry distant member give.
Th' extensive knowledge you of men enjoy,
You to a double use of man employ;
Nor to the body, is your skill confin'd,
Of error's worse disease you heal the mind.
No longer shall the hardy atheist praise
Lucretius' piercing wit, and philosophic lays;
But by your lines convinc'd, and charm'd at once,
His impious tenets shall at length renounce,
At length to truth and eloquence shall yield,
Confess himself subdu'd, and wisely quit the field.
[Footnote A: See his Life prefixed to his works, by William Duncomb
* * * * *
William Duncomb, esq; has obliged the world with an entire edition of
this author's poetical and prose works, to which he has prefixed
some account of his life, written with candour and spirit. Upon his
authority we chiefly build the following narration; in which we shall
endeavour to do as much justice as possible to the memory of this
Our author was the son of a worthy citizen of London, and born at
Marlborough in the county of Wilts, on the 29th of January 1677; but
received the rudiments of his learning at private schools in London.
In the earliest years of his youth, he applied himself with ardour to
the pursuit of the sister arts, poetry, drawing and music, in each of
which by turns, he made a considerable progress; but for the most part
pursued these and other polite studies, only as agreeable amusements,
under frequent confinement from indisposition, and a valetudinary
state of health. He had some time an employment in the office of
ordinance; and was secretary to two or three commissioners under the
great-seal, for purchasing lands for the better securing the docks and
harbours at Portsmouth, Chatham, and Harwich.
In the year 1717 the lord chancellor Cowper, (to whom Mr. Hughes
was then but lately known) was pleased, without any previous
sollicitation, to make him his secretary for the commissions of the
peace, and to distinguish him with singular marks of his favour and
affection: And upon his lordship's laying down the great-seal, he was
at his particular recommendation, and with the ready concurrence of
his successor, continued in the same employment under the earl of
He held this place to the time of his decease, which happened on the
17th of February 1719, the very night in which his tragedy, entitled
the Siege of Damascus, was first acted at the Theatre-Royal in
He was cut off by a consumption, after a painful life, at the age of
42, when he had just arrived at an agreeable competence, and advancing
in fame and fortune. So just is the beautiful reflexion of Milton in
Fame is the spur, that the clear spirit doth raise,
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon, when we hops to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind fury with th' abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life.--
He was privately buried in the vault under the chancel of St. Andrew's
Church in Holborn. Mr. Hughes, as a testimony of gratitude to his
noble friend, and generous patron, earl Cowper, gave his lordship a
few weeks before he died, his picture drawn by Sir Godfrey Kneller,
which he himself had received from that masterly painter. The value
lord Cowper set upon it will be best shewn, by the letter he wrote
upon this occasion to Mr. Hughes. As such a testimony from so eminent
a person, was considered by himself as one of the highest honours he
was capable of receiving, we shall therefore insert it.
24th Jan. 1719-20.
'I thank you for the most acceptable present of your picture, and
assure you that none of this age can set a higher value on it than I
do, and shall while I live, tho' I am sensible posterity will out-do
me in that particular.'
I am with the greatest esteem, and sincerity
Your most affectionate, and oblig'd humble servant
Mr. Hughes was happy in the acquaintance and friendship of several of
the greatest men, and most distinguished genius's of the age in which
he lived; particularly of the nobleman just now mentioned, the present
lord bishop of Winchester, lord chief baron Gilbert, Sir Godfrey
Kneller, Mr. Congreve, Mr. Addison, Sir Richard Steele, Mr. Southern,
Mr. Rowe, &c. and might have justly boasted in the words of Horace
Cum magnis vixisse, invita fatebitu usque
Having given this short account of his life, which perhaps is all
that is preserved any where concerning him; we shall now consider him,
first, as a poet, and then as a prose writer.
The Triumph of Peace was the earliest poem he wrote of any length,
that appeared in public. It was written on occasion of the peace
of Ryswick, and printed in the year 1677. A learned gentleman at
Cambridge, in a letter to a friend of Mr. Hughes's, dated the 28th
of February 1697-8, gives the following account of the favourable
reception this poem met with there, upon its first publication.
'I think I never heard a poem read with so much admiration, as the
Triumph of Peace was by our best critics here, nor a greater character
given to a young poet, at his first appearing; no, not even to Mr.
Congreve himself. So nobly elevated are his thoughts, his numbers so
harmonious, and his turns so fine and delicate, that we cry out with
Tully, on a like occasion,
'Nostrae spes altera Romae!'
The Court of Neptune, was written on king William's return from
Holland, two years after the peace, in 1699. This Poem was admired
for the verification, however, the musical flow of the numbers is its
least praise; it rather deserves to be valued for the propriety, and
boldness of the figures and metaphors, and the machinery.
The following lines have been justly quoted as an instance of the
author's happy choice of metaphors.
As when the golden god, who rules the day,
Drives down his flaming chariot to the sea,
And leaves the nations here, involved in night,
To distant regions he transports his light;
So William's rays by turns, two rations cheer,
And when he sets to them, he rises here.
A friend of Mr. Hughes's soon after the publication of this poem,
complimented him upon the choice of his subject, and for the moral
sentiments contained in it. 'I am sure (says he) virtue is most for
the interest of mankind; and those poets have ever obtained the most
honour in the world, who have made that the end and design of their
works. A wanton Sappho, or Anacreon, among the ancients, never had the
same applause, as a Pindar, or Alexis; nor in the judgment of Horace
did they deserve it. In the opinion of all posterity, a lewd and
debauch'd Ovid, did justly submit to the worth of a Virgil; and, in
future ages, a Dryden will never be compared to Milton. In all times,
and in all places of the world, the moral poets have been ever the
greatest; and as much superior to others in wit, as in virtue. Nor
does this seem difficult to be accounted for, since the dignity of
their subjects naturally raised their ideas, and gave a grandeur to
The House of Nassau, a Pindaric Ode (printed in 1702) was occasioned
by the death of king William. 'In Pindaric and Lyric Poetry (says
Mr. Duncomb) our author's genius shines in its full lustre. Tho' he
enjoyed all that fire of imagination, and divine enthusiasm, for which
some of the ancient poets are so deservedly admired, yet did his fancy
never run away with his reason, but was always guided by superior
judgment; and the music of his verse is exquisite.'
The Translation of the third Ode of the third Book of Horace, and
the Paraphrase of the twenty-second Ode, of the first book, were both
written when he was very young; and the latter of them was his first
poetical Essay, which appeared in print. Mr. Hughes, in a private
letter sent to one of his friends, gives it as his opinion, that the
Odes of Horace, are fitter to be paraphrased, than translated.
The Tenth Book of Lucan, was translated by Mr. Hughes, long before Mr.
Rowe undertook that author. The occasion of it was this: Mr. Tonson
the bookseller, sollicited a translation of Lucan, by several hands.
Mr. Hughes performed his part, but others failing in their promises,
the design was dropp'd; and Mr. Rowe was afterwards prevailed upon to
undertake the whole, which he performed with great success.
In the year 1709 Mr. Hughes obliged the publick, with an elegant
translation of Moliere's celebrated Comedy, the Misantrope. This has
been since reprinted, with the other plays of that admirable author,
translated by Mr. Ozell; but care is taken to distinguish this
In the year 1712 his Opera of Calypso and Telemachus, was performed at
the Queen's Theatre in the Hay-Market. Perhaps it may be worth while
to mention here, one circumstance concerning this Opera, as it relates
to the History of Music in England, and discovers the great partiality
shewn at that time to Opera's performed in Italian. After many such
had been encouraged by large subscriptions, this, originally written,
and set in English, after the Italian manner, was prepared with the
usual expence of scenes and decorations; and being much crowded and
applauded at the rehearsals, a subscription was obtained for it as
This alarmed the whole Italian band, who, apprehending that their
profession would suffer thereby, procured an order from the duke of
Shrewsbury, then lord chamberlain, the day before the performing of
this Opera, to take off the subscription for it, and to open the house
at the lowest prices, or not at all. This was designed to sink it, but
failed of its end. It was performed, formed, though under such
great discouragement; and was revived afterwards at the theatre
in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. Mr. Addison, in the Spectator, Numb. 405,
speaking of the just applause given this opera, by Signior Nicolini
(who he says was the greatest performer in dramatic music, that
perhaps ever appeared upon a stage) has these words,
'The town is highly obliged to that excellent artist, for having shewn
us the Italian music in its perfection, as well as for that generous
approbation he gave to an Opera of our own country, in which Mr.
Galliard the composer endeavoured to do justice to the beauty of the
words, by following that noble example which has been set him by the
greatest foreign masters of that art.'
The Ode to the Creator of the World, occasioned by the fragments of
Orpheus, was printed in the year 1713, at the particular instance of
Mr. Addison; and is mentioned with applause in the Spectator. This,
and the Extasy, (published since the death of the author) are justly
esteemed two of the noblest Odes in our language. The seventh Stanza
of the last mentioned piece, is so sublimely excellent, that it would
be denying ourselves, and our poetical readers, a pleasure not to
transcribe it. The whole of this Ode is beautifully heightened, and
poetically conceived. It furnished a hint to a living Poet to write
what he entitles the Excursion, which tho' it has very great merit,
yet falls infinitely short of this animated Ode of Mr. Hughes.
After having represented the natural and artificial calamities to
which man is doomed, he proceeds,
But why do I delay my flight?
Or on such gloomy objects gaze?
I go to realms serene, with ever-living light.
Haste, clouds and whirlwinds, haste a raptured bard to raise;
Mount me sublime along the shining way,
Where planets, in pure streams of Aether driven,
Swim thro' the blue expanse of heav'n.
And lo! th' obsequious clouds and winds obey!
And lo! again the nations downward fly;
And wide-stretch'd kingdoms perish from my eye.
Heav'n! what bright visions now arise!
What op'ning worlds my ravish'd sense surprize!
I pass Cerulian gulphs, and now behold
New solid globes; their weight self-ballanc'd, bear
Unprop'd amidst the fluid air,
And all, around the central Sun, incircling eddies roll'd.
Unequal in their course, see they advance
And form the planetary dance!
Here the pale Moon, whom the same laws ordain
T' obey the earth, and rule the main;
Here spots no more in shadowy streaks appear;
But lakes instead, and groves of trees,
The wand'ring muse, transported sees,
And their tall heads discover'd mountains rear.
And now once more, I downward cast my sight,
When lo! the earth, a larger moon displays,
Far off, amidst the heav'ns, her silver face,
And to her sister moons by turns gives light!
Her seas are shadowy spots, her land a milky white.
The author of an Essay on Criticism, printed in the year 1728, informs
us, that the Tragedy of Cato being brought upon the stage in 1713 was
owing to Mr. Hughes. The circumstances recorded by this author are so
remarkable, that they deserve to be related; and as they serve to shew
the high opinion Mr. Addison entertained of our author's abilities as
a Poet, I shall therefore transcribe his own words.--
'It has been often said by good judges, that Cato was no proper
subject for a dramatic poem: That the character of a stoic
philosopher, is inconsistent with the hurry and tumult of action,
and passions which are the soul of tragedy. That the ingenious author
miscarried in the plan of his work, but supported it by the dignity,
the purity, the beauty, and justness of the sentiments. This was so
much the opinion of Mr. Maynwaring, who was generally allowed to be
the best critic of our time; that he was against bringing the play
upon the stage, and it lay by unfinished many years. That it was
play'd at last was owing to Mr. Hughes. He had read the four acts
which were finished, and really thought it would be of service to
the public, to have it represented at the latter end of queen
Anne's reign, when the spirit of liberty was likely to be lost. He
endeavoured to bring Mr. Addison into his opinion, which he did, and
consented it should be acted if Mr. Hughes would write the last act;
and he offered him the scenery for his assistance, excusing his
not finishing it himself, upon account of some other avocations. He
press'd Mr. Hughes to do it so earnestly, that he was prevailed upon,
and set about it. But, a week after, seeing Mr. Addison again, with
an intention to communicate to him what he thought of it, he was
agreeably surprized at his producing some papers, where near half of
the act was written by the author himself, who took fire at the hint,
that it would be serviceable; and, upon a second reflexion, went
through with the fifth act, not that he was diffident of Mr. Hughes's
abilities; but knowing that no man could have so perfect a notion of
his design as himself, who had been so long, and so carefully thinking
of it. I was told this by Mr. Hughes, and I tell it to shew, that it
was not for the love-scenes, that Mr. Addison consented to have his
Tragedy acted, but to support public spirit; which in the opinion of
the author was then declining.'
In the year 1720 the Siege of Damascus was acted at the Theatre-Royal
in Drury-Lane, with universal applause. His present majesty honoured
it with his presence, and the late queen distinguished it with marks
Mr. Hughes drew up the dedication of this Tragedy to the late Earl
Cowper, about ten days before he died. It is indeed surprising, that
he should be able to form a piece so finely turned, and at such
an hour; when death was just before him, and he was too weak to
transcribe it himself.
Mr. Pope, in a letter to Mr. Hughes's brother, written soon after his
death, in answer to one received from him, with the printed copy of
the play, has the following pathetic passage.
'I read over again your brother's play, with more concern and sorrow,
than I ever felt in the reading any Tragedy. The real loss of a good
man may be called a distress to the world, and ought to affect us
more, than any feigned distress, how well drawn soever. I am glad
of an occasion of giving you under my hand this testimony, both how
excellent I think this work to be, and how excellent I thought the
It is generally allowed that the characters in this play are finely
varied and distinguished; that the sentiments are just, and
well adapted to the characters; that it abounds with beautiful
descriptions, apt allusions to the manners, and opinions of the times
where the scene is laid, and with noble morals; that the diction is
pure, unaffected, and sublime; and that the plot is conducted in a
simple and clear manner.
Some critics have objected, that there is not a sufficient ground
and foundation, for the distress in the fourth and fifth acts. That
Phocyas only assists the enemy to take Damascus a few days sooner,
than it must unavoidably have fallen into the hands of the Saracens
by a capitulation, which was far from dishonourable. If Phocyas is
guilty, his guilt must consist in this only, that he performed the
same action from a sense of his own wrong, and to preserve the idol
of his soul from violation, and death, which he might have performed
laudably, upon better principles. But this (say they) seems not
sufficient ground for those strong and stinging reproaches he casts
upon himself, nor for Eudocia's rejecting him with so much severity.
It would have been a better ground of distress, considering the
frailty of human nature, and the violent temptations he lay under; if
he had been at last prevailed upon to profess himself a Mahometan: For
then his remorse, and self-condemnation, would have been natural, his
punishment just, and the character of Eudocia placed in a more amiable
light. In answer to these objections, and in order to do justice to
the judgment of Mr. Hughes, we must observe, that he formed his play
according to the plan here recommended: but, over-persuaded by some
friends, he altered it as it now stands.
When our author was but in the nineteenth year of his age, he wrote
a Tragedy, entitled, Amalasont Queen of the Goths, which displays
a fertile genius, and a masterly invention. Besides these poetical
productions Mr. Hughes is author of several works in prose,
particularly, The Advices from Parnassus, and the Poetical Touchstone
of Trajano Boccalini, translated by several hands, were printed
in folio 1706. This translation was revised and corrected, and the
preface to it was written by Mr. Hughes.
Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead, translated by our author; with two
original Dialogues, published in the year 1708. The greatest part of
this had lain by him for six years.
Fontenelle's Discourse concerning the ancients, and moderns, are
printed with his conversations with a Lady, on the Plurality of
Worlds, translated by Glanville.
The History of the Revolutions in Portugal, written in French, by
Monsieur L'Abbe de Vertot, was translated by Mr. Hughes.
The Translation of the Letters of Abelard and Heloise, was done by Mr.
Hughes; upon which Mr. Pope has built his beautiful Epistle of Heloise
As Mr. Hughes was an occasional contributor to the Tatler, Spectator,
and Guardian, the reader perhaps may be curious to know more
particularly what share he had in those papers, which are so justly
admired in all places in the world, where taste and genius have
visited. As it is the highest honour to have had any concern in
works like these, so it would be most injurious to the memory of this
excellent genius, not to particularize his share in them.
In the Tatler he writ,
Vol. II. Numb. 64. A Letter signed Josiah Couplet.
Numb. 73. A Letter against Gamesters,
signed William Trusty.
Mr. Tickell alludes to this Letter, in a Copy of Verses addressed to
the Spectator, Vol. VII. No. 532.
From Felon Gamesters, the raw squire is free,
And Briton owes her rescued oaks to thee.
Numb. 113. The Inventory of a Beau.
In the Spectator.
Vol. I. Numb. 33. A Letter on the Art of improving
Numb. 53. A Second Letter on the same
Numb. 66. Two Letters concerning fine
Vol. II. Numb. 91. The History of Honoria, or
the Rival Mother.
Numb. 104. A Letter on Riding-Habits for
Numb. 141. Remarks on a Comedy, intitled
Vol. III. Numb. 210. On the immortality of the
Numb. 220. A Letter concerning expedients
Numb. 230. All, except the last Letter.
Numb. 231. A Letter on the awe of appearing
before public assemblies.
Numb. 237. On Divine Providence.
Vol. IV. Numb. 252. A Letter on the Eloquence of
Tears, and fainting fits.
Numb. 302. The Character of Emilia.
Numb. 311. A Letter from the Father of
a great Fortune.
Vol. V. Numb. 57. A Picture of Virtue in Distress.
Vol. VII. Numb. 525. On Conjugal Love.
Numb. 537. On the Dignity of Human
Numb. 541. Rules for Pronunciation and
Action, chiefly collected from Cicero.
Vol. VII. Numb. 554. On the Improvement of the Genius, illustrated
in the characters of Lord Bacon, Mr. Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, and
Leonardo da Vinci.--We have not been able to learn, what papers in
the Guardian were written by him, besides Number 37, Vol. I. which
contains Remarks on the Tragedy of Othello.
In the year 1715 Mr. Hughes published a very accurate edition of the
works of our famous poet Edmund Spenser, in six volumes, 12mo. to
this edition are prefixed the Life of Spenser; an Essay on Allegorical
poetry; Remarks on the Fairy Queen; on the Shepherd's Calendar, and
other writings of Spenser; and a Glossary explaining the Old and
In 1718 he published a piece called Charon, or The Ferry-Boat, a
Vision. This, and Mr. Walsh's AEsculapius, or Hospital of Fools, are
perhaps two of the finest dialogues we have in English, as well as the
most lively imitations of Lucian.
Sir Richard Steele, in a paper called The Theatre, No. 15. has paid a
tribute to the memory of Mr. Hughes, with which as it illustrates his
amiable character, we shall conclude his life.
'I last night (says he) saw the Siege of Damascus, and had the
mortification to hear this evening that Mr. Hughes, the author of it,
departed this life within some few hours after his play was acted,
with universal applause. This melancholy circumstance recalled into
my thought a speech in the tragedy, which very much affected the
whole audience, and was attended to with the greatest, and most solemn
instance of approbation, and awful silence.' The incidents of the
play plunge a heroic character into the last extremity; and he is
admonished by a tyrant commander to expect no mercy, unless he changes
the Christian religion for the Mahometan. The words with which the
Turkish general makes his exit from his prisoner are,
Farewel, and think of death.
Upon which the captive breaks into the following soliloquy,
Farewel! and think of death!--was it not so?
Do murtherers then, preach morality?
But how to think of what the living know not,
And the dead cannot, or else may not tell!
What art thou? O thou great mysterious terror!
The way to thee, we know; diseases, famine,
Sword, fire, and all thy ever open gates,
That day and night stand ready to receive us.
But what, beyond them? who will draw that veil?
Yet death's not there.----No, 'tis a point of time;
The verge 'twixt mortal, and immortal Being.
It mocks our thought----On this side all is life;
And when we've reach'd it, in that very instant,
'Tis past the thinking of----O if it be
The pangs, the throes, the agonizing struggle,
When soul and body part, sure I have felt it!
And there's no more to fear.
'The gentleman (continues Sir Richard) to whose memory I devote this
paper, may be the emulation of more persons of different talents,
than any one I have ever known. His head, hand, or heart, was always
employed in something worthy imitation; his pencil, his bow (string)
or his pen, each of which he used in a masterly manner, were always
directed to raise, and entertain his own mind, or that of others, to a
more chearful prosecution of what is noble and virtuous. Peace be with
thy remains, thou amiable spirit! but I talk in the language of our
weakness, that is flown to the regions of immortality, and relieved
from the aking engine and painful instrument of anguish and sorrow,
in which for many tedious years he panted with a lively hope for his
present condition.' We shall consign the trunk, in which he was so
long imprisoned, to common earth, with all that is due to the merit of
[Footnote A: There are several copies of verses written to the memory
of Mr. Hughes, prefixed to Mr. Duncomb's edition of his poems, of
which one by a lady who has withheld her name, deserves particular
* * * * *
MATTHEW PRIOR, Esq;
This celebrated poet was the son of Mr. George Prior, citizen of
London, who was by profession a Joiner. Our author was born in 1664.
His father dying when he was very young, left him to the care of an
uncle, a Vintner near Charing-Cross, who discharged the trust that was
reposed in him, with a tenderness truly paternal, as Mr. Prior always
acknowledged with the highest professions of gratitude. He received
part of his education at Westminster school, where he distinguished
himself to great advantage, but was afterwards taken home by his
uncle in order to be bred up to his trade. Notwithstanding this mean
employment, to which Mr. Prior seemed now doomed, yet at his leisure
hours he prosecuted his study of the classics, and especially his
favourite Horace, by which means he was soon taken notice of, by the
polite company, who resorted to his uncle's house. It happened one
day, that the earl of Dorset being at his Tavern, which he often
frequented with several gentlemen of rank, the discourse turned upon
the Odes of Horace; and the company being divided in their sentiments
about a passage in that poet, one of the gentlemen said, I find we are
not like to agree in our criticisms, but, if I am not mistaken, there
is a young fellow in the house, who is able to set us all right: upon
which he named Prior, who was immediately sent for, and desired to
give his opinion of Horace's meaning in the Ode under consideration;
this he did with great modesty, and so much to the satisfaction of
the company, that the earl of Dorset, from that moment, determined to
remove him from the station in which he was, to one more suited to his
genius; and accordingly procured him to be sent to St. John's College
in Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1686, and afterwards became
fellow of the College.
During his residence in the university, he contracted an intimate
friendship with Charles Montague, esq; afterwards earl of Hallifax,
in conjunction with whom he wrote a very humorous piece, entitled The
Hind and Panther transversed to the story of the Country Mouse, and
the City Mouse, printed 1687 in 4to. in answer to Mr. Dryden's Hind
and the Panther, published the year before.
Upon the revolution Mr. Prior was brought to court by his great patron
the earl of Dorset, by whose interest he was introduced to public
employment, and in the year 1690 was made secretary to the earl
of Berkley, plenipotentiary to King William and Queen Mary at the
Congress at the Hague.
In this station he acquitted himself so well, that he was afterwards
appointed secretary to the earls of Pembroke, and Jersey, and Sir
Joseph Williamson, ambassadors, and plenipotentiaries, at the treaty
of Ryswick 1697, as he was likewise in 1698 to the earl of Portland,
ambassador to the court of France. While he was in that kingdom, one
of the officers of the French King's houshold, shewing him the royal
apartments, and curiosities at Versailles, especially the paintings of
Le Brun, wherein the victories of Lewis XIV. are described, asked him,
whether King William's actions are to be seen in his palace? 'No Sir,
replied Mr. Prior, the monuments of my master's actions are to be seen
every where, but in his own house.'
In the year 1697 Mr. Prior was made secretary of state for Ireland,
and in 1700 was created master of arts by Mandamus, and appointed
one of the lords commissioners of trade and plantations, upon the
resignation of Mr. Locke. He was also Member of Parliament for
East-Grimstead in Sussex. In 1710 he was supposed to have had a share
in writing the Examiner, and particularly a Criticism in it upon a
Poem of Dr. Garth to the earl of Godolphin, taken notice of in the
life of Garth.
About this time, when Godolphin was defeated by Oxford, and the Tories
who had long been eclipsed by the lustre of Marlborough, began again
to hold up their heads, Mr. Prior and Dr. Garth espoused opposite
interests; Mr. Prior wrote for, and Garth against the court. The Dr.
was so far honest, that he did not desert his patron in distress; and
notwithstanding the cloud which then hung upon the party, he addressed
verses to him, which, however they may fail in the poetry, bear strong
the marks of gratitude, and honour.
While Mr. Prior was thus very early initiated in public business, and
continued in the hurry of affairs for many years, it must appear not
a little surprizing, that he should find sufficient opportunities to
cultivate his poetical talents, to the amazing heights he raised them.
In his preface to his poems, he says, that poetry was only the product
of his leisure hours; that he had commonly business enough upon his
hands, and, as he modestly adds, was only a poet by accident; but we
must take the liberty of differing from him in the last particular,
for Mr. Prior seems to have received from the muses, at his nativity,
all the graces they could well bestow on their greatest favourite.
We must not omit one instance in Mr. Prior's conduct, which will
appear very remarkable: he was chosen a member of that Parliament
which impeached the Partition Treaty, to which he himself had been
secretary; and though his share in that transaction was consequently
very considerable, yet he joined in the impeachment upon an honest
principle of conviction, that exceptionable measures attended it.
The lord Bolingbroke, who, notwithstanding many exceptions made both
to his conduct, and sentiments in other instances, yet must be allowed
to be an accomplished judge of fine talents, entertained the highest
esteem for Mr. Prior, on account of his shining abilities. This noble
lord, in a letter dated September 10, 1712, addressed to Mr. Prior,
while he was the Queen's minister, and plenipotentiary at the court of
France, pays him the following compliment; 'For God's sake, Matt. hide
the nakedness of thy country, and give the best turn thy fertile brain
will furnish thee with, to the blunders of thy countrymen, who are not
much better politicians, than the French are poets.' His lordship thus
concludes his epistle; 'It is near three o'clock in the morning, I
have been hard at work all day, and am not yet enough recovered to
bear much fatigue; excuse therefore the confusedness of this scroll,
which is only from Harry to Matt, and not from the secretary to the
minister. Adieu, my pen is ready to drop out of my hand, it being now
three o'clock in the morning; believe that no man loves you better, or
is more faithfully yours, &c.
There are several other letters from Bolingbroke to Prior, which, were
it necessary, we might insert as evidences of his esteem for him; but
Mr. Prior was in every respect so great a man, that the esteem even of
lord Bolingbroke cannot add much to the lustre of his reputation,
both as a statesman, and a poet. Mr. Prior is represented by those who
knew, and have wrote concerning him, as a gentleman, who united the
elegance and politeness of a court, with the scholar, and the man of
genius. This representation, in general, may be just, yet it holds
almost invariably true, that they who have risen from low life, still
retain some traces of their original. No cultivation, no genius, it
seems, is able entirely to surmount this: There was one particular in
which Mr. Prior verified the old proverb.
The same woman who could charm the waiter in a tavern, still
maintained her dominion over the embassador at France. The Chloe of
Prior, it seems, was a woman in this station of life; but he never
forsook her in the heighth of his reputation. Hence we may observe,
that associations with women are the most lasting of all, and
that when an eminent station raises a man above many other acts of
condescension, a mistress will maintain her influence, charm away the
pride of greatness, and make the hero who fights, and the patriot
who speaks, for the liberty of his country, a slave to her. One would
imagine however, that this woman, who was a Butcher's wife, must
either have been very handsome, or have had something about her
superior to people of her rank: but it seems the case was otherwise,
and no better reason can be given for Mr. Prior's attachment to her,
but that she was his taste. Her husband suffered their intrigue to go
on unmolested; for he was proud even of such a connexion as this, with
so great a man as Prior; a singular instance of good nature.
In the year 1715 Mr. Prior was recalled from France, and upon his
arrival was taken up by a warrant from the House of Commons; shortly
after which, he underwent a very strict examination by a Committee of
the Privy Council. His political friend, lord Bolingbroke, foreseeing
a storm, took shelter in France, and secured Harry, but left poor
Matt. in the lurch.
On the 10th of June Robert Walpole, esq; moved the House against
him, and on the 17th Mr. Prior was ordered into close custody, and no
person was admitted to see him without leave from the Speaker. For
the particulars of this procedure of the Parliament, both against Mr.
Prior, and many others concerned in the public transactions of the
preceding reign, we refer to the histories of that time. In the year
1717 an Act of Grace was passed in favour of those who had opposed
the Hanoverian succession, as well as those who had been in open
rebellion, but Mr. Prior was excepted out of it. At the close of this
year, however, he was discharged from his confinement, and retired to
spend the residue of his days at Downhall in Essex.
The severe usage which Mr. Prior met with, perhaps was the occasion of
the following beautiful lines, addressed to his Chloe;
From public noise, and factious strife,
From all the busy ills of life,
Take me, my Chloe, to thy breast;
And lull my wearied soul to rest:
For ever, in this humble cell,
Let thee and I, my fair one, dwell;
None enter else, but Love----and he
Shall bar the door, and keep the key.
To painted roofs, and shining spires
(Uneasy feats of high desires)
Let the unthinking many croud,
That dare be covetous, and proud;
In golden bondage let them wait,
And barter happiness for state:
But oh! my Chloe when thy swain
Desires to see a court again;
May Heav'n around his destin'd head
The choicest of his curses shed,
To sum up all the rage of fate.
In the two things I dread, and hate,
May'st thou be false, and I be great.
In July 1721, within two months of his death, Mr. Prior published the
following beautiful little tale on the falshood of mankind, entitled
The Conversation, and applied it to the truth, honour, and justice of
his grace the duke of Dorset.
The CONVERSATION. A Tale.
It always has been thought discreet
To know the company you meet;
And sure, there may be secret danger
In talking much before a stranger.
Agreed: what then? then drink your ale;
I'll pledge you, and repeat my tale.
No matter where the scene is fix'd,
The persons were but odly mix'd,
When sober Damon thus began:
(And Damon is a clever man)
I now grow old; but still from youth,
Have held for modesty and truth,
The men, who by these sea-marks steer,
In life's great voyage, never err;
Upon this point I dare defy
The world; I pause for a reply.
Sir, either is a good assistant,
Said one, who sat a little distant:
Truth decks our speeches, and our books,
And modesty adorns our looks:
But farther progress we must take;
Not only born to look and speak,
The man must act. The Stagyrite
Says thus, and says extremely right;
Strict justice is the sovereign guide,
That o'er our actions should preside;
This queen of virtue is confess'd
To regulate and bind the rest.
Thrice happy, if you can but find
Her equal balance poise your mind:
All diff'rent graces soon will enter,
Like lines concurrent to their center.
'Twas thus, in short, these two went on,
With yea and nay, and pro and con,
Thro' many points divinely dark,
And Waterland assaulting Clarke;
'Till, in theology half lost,
Damon took up the Evening-Post;
Confounded Spain, compos'd the North,
And deep in politics held forth.
Methinks, we're in the like condition,
As at the treaty of partition;
That stroke, for all King William's care,
Begat another tedious war.
Matthew, who knew the whole intrigue,
Ne'er much approv'd that mystic league;
In the vile Utrecht treaty too,
Poor man! he found enough to do.
Sometimes to me he did apply;
But downright Dunstable was I,
And told him where they were mistaken,
And counsell'd him to save his bacon:
But (pass his politics and prose)
I never herded with his foes;
Nay, in his verses, as a friend,
I still found something to commend.
Sir, I excus'd his Nut-brown maid;
Whate'er severer critics said:
Too far, I own, the girl was try'd:
The women all were on my side.
For Alma I return'd him thanks,
I lik'd her with her little pranks;
Indeed, poor Solomon, in rhime,
Was much too grave to be sublime.
Pindar and Damon scorn transition,
So on he ran a new division;
'Till, out of breath, he turn'd to spit:
(Chance often helps us more than wit)
T'other that lucky moment took,
Just nick'd the time, broke in, and spoke.
Of all the gifts the gods afford
(If we may take old Tully's word)
The greatest is a friend, whose love
Knows how to praise, and when reprove;
From such a treasure never part,
But hang the jewel on your heart:
And pray, sir (it delights me) tell;
You know this author mighty well--
Know him! d'ye question it? ods fish!
Sir, does a beggar know his dish?
I lov'd him, as I told you, I
Advis'd him--here a stander-by
Twitch'd Damon gently by the cloke,
And thus unwilling silence broke:
Damon, 'tis time we should retire,
The man you talk with is Matt. Prior.
Patron, thro' life, and from thy birth my friend,
Dorset, to thee this fable let me send:
With Damon's lightness weigh thy solid worth;
The foil is known to set the diamond forth:
Let the feign'd tale this real moral give,
How many Damons, how few Dorsets live!
Mr. Prior, after the fatigue of a length of years past in various
services of action, was desirous of spending the remainder of his days
in rural tranquility, which the greatest men of all ages have been
fond of enjoying: he was so happy as to succeed in his wish, living a
very retired, and contemplative life, at Downhall in Essex, and found,
as he expressed himself, a more solid, and innocent satisfaction among
woods, and meadows, than he had enjoyed in the hurry, and tumults
of the world, the courts of Princes, or the conducting foreign
negotiations; and where as he melodiously sings,
The remnant of his days he safely past,
Nor found they lagg'd too slow, nor flew too fast;
He made his wish with his estate comply,
Joyful to live, yet not afraid to die.
This great man died on the 18th of September, 1721, at Wimple in
Cambridgshire, the seat of the earl of Oxford, with whose friendship
he had been honoured for some years. The death of so distinguished a
person was justly esteemed an irreparable loss to the polite world,
and his memory will be ever dear to those, who have any relish for the
muses in their softer charms. Some of the latter part of his life was
employed in collecting materials for an History of the Transactions of
his own Times, but his death unfortunately deprived the world of what
the touches of so masterly a hand, would have made exceeding valuable.
Mr. Prior, by the suffrage of all men of taste, holds the first rank
in poetry, for the delicacy of his numbers, the wittiness of his
turns, the acuteness of his remarks, and, in one performance, for the
amazing force of his sentiments. The stile of our author is likewise
so pure, that our language knows no higher authority, and there is an
air of original in his minutest performances.
It would be superfluous to give any detail of his poems, they are in
the hands of all who love poetry, and have been as often admired, as
read. The performance however, for which he is most distinguished, is
his Solomon; a Poem in three Books, the first on Knowledge, the second
on Pleasure, and the third on Power. We know few poems to which this
is second, and it justly established his reputation as one of the best
writers of his age.
This sublime work begins thus,
Ye sons of men, with just regard attend,
Observe the preacher, and believe the friend,
Whose serious muse inspires him to explain,
That all we act, and all we think is vain:
That in this pilgrimage of seventy years,
O'er rocks of perils, and thro' vales of tears
Destin'd to march, our doubtful steps we tend,
Tir'd of the toil, yet fearful of its end:
That from the womb, we take our fatal shares,
Of follies, fashions, labours, tumults, cares;
And at approach of death shall only know,
The truths which from these pensive numbers flow,
That we pursue false joy, and suffer real woe.
After an enquiry into, and an excellent description of the various
operations, and effects of nature, the system of the heavens, &c. and
not being fully informed of them, the first Book concludes,
How narrow limits were to wisdom given?
Earth she surveys; she thence would measure Heav'n:
Thro' mists obscure, now wings her tedious way;
Now wanders dazl'd, with too bright a day;
And from the summit of a pathless coast
Sees infinite, and in that sight is lost.
In the second Book the uncertainty, disappointment, and vexation
attending pleasure in general, are admirably described; and in the
character of Solomon is sufficiently shewn, that nothing debases
majesty, or indeed any man, more than ungovernable passion.
When thus the gath'ring storms of wretched love
In my swoln bosom, with long war had strove;
At length they broke their bounds; at length their force
Bore down whatever met its stronger course:
Laid all the civil bounds of manhood waste.
And scatter'd ruin, as the torrent past.
The third Book treats particularly of the trouble and instability
of greatness and power, considers man through the several stages and
conditions of life, and has excellent reasoning upon life and death.
On the last are these lines;
Cure of the miser's wish, and cowards fear,
Death only shews us, what we knew was near.
With courage therefore view the 'pointed hour;
Dread not death's anger, but expect its power;
Nor nature's laws, with fruitless sorrow mourn;
But die, O mortal man! for thou wast born.
The poet has likewise these similies on life;
As smoke that rises from the kindling fires
Is seen this moment, and the next expires:
As empty clouds by rising winds are tost,
Their fleeting forms no sooner found than lost:
So vanishes our state; so pass our days;
So life but opens now, and now decays;
The cradle, and the tomb, alas! so nigh;
To live is scarce distinguished from to die.
We shall conclude this account of Mr. Prior's life with the following
copy of verses, written on his Death by Robert Ingram, esq; which is a
very successful imitation of Mr. Prior's manner.
Mat. Prior!--(and we must submit)
Is at his journey's end;
In whom the world has lost a wit,
And I, what's more, a friend.
Who vainly hopes long here to stay,
May see with weeping eyes;
Not only nature posts away,
But e'en good nature dies!
Should grave ones count these praises light,
To such it may be said:
A man, in this lamented wight,
Of business too is dead.
From ancestors, as might a fool!
He trac'd no high-fetch'd stem;
But gloriously revers'd the rule,
By dignifying them.
O! gentle Cambridge! sadly say,
Why fates are so unkind
To snatch thy giant sons away,
Whilst pigmies stay behind?
Horace and he were call'd, in haste,
From this vile earth to heav'n;
The cruel year not fully past,
AEtatis, fifty seven.
So, on the tops of Lebanon,
Tall cedars felt the sword,
To grace, by care of Solomon,
The temple of the Lord.
A tomb amidst the learned may
The western abbey give!
Like theirs, his ashes must decay,
Like theirs, his fame shall live.
Close, carver, by some well cut books,
Let a thin busto tell,
In spite of plump and pamper'd looks,
How scantly sense can dwell!
No epitaph of tedious length
Should overcharge the stone;
Since loftiest verse would lose its strength,
In mentioning his own.
At once! and not verbosely tame,
Some brave Laconic pen
Should smartly touch his ample name,
In form of--O rare Ben!
* * * * *
Mrs. SUSANNA CENTLIVRE,
This lady was daughter of one Mr. Freeman, of Holbeack in
Lincolnshire. There was formerly an estate in the family of her
father, but being a Dissenter, and a zealous parliamentarian, he was
so very much persecuted at the restoration, that he was laid under a
necessity to fly into Ireland, and his estate was confiscated; nor was
the family of our authoress's mother free from the severity of those
times, they being likewise parliamentarians. Her education was in the
country, and her father dying when she was but three years of age,
and her mother not living 'till she was twelve, the improvements our
poetess made were merely by her own industry and application. She was
married before the age of fifteen, to a nephew of Sir Stephen Fox.
This gentleman living with her but a year, she afterwards married Mr.
Carrol, an officer in the army, and survived him likewise in the space
of a year and a half. She afterwards married Mr. Joseph Centlivre,
yeoman of the mouth to his late Majesty. She gave early discoveries of
a genius for poetry, and Mr. Jacob in his Lives of the Poets tells us,
that she composed a song before she was seven years old. She is
the author of fifteen plays; her talent is comedy, particularly the
contrivance of the plots, and incidents. Sir Richard Steele, in one of
his Tatlers, speaking of the Busy Body, thus recommends it. 'The plot,
and incidents of the play, are laid with that subtilty, and spirit,
which is peculiar to females of wit, and is very seldom well performed
by those of the other sex, in whom craft in love is an act of
invention, and not as with women, the effect of nature, and instinct'.
She died December 1, 1723; the author of the Political State thus
characterizes her. 'Mrs. Centlivre, from a mean parentage and
education, after several gay adventures (over which we shall draw
a veil) she had, at last, so well improved her natural genius by
reading, and good conversation, as to attempt to write for the stage,
in which sh had as good success as any of her sex before her. Her
first dramatic performance was a Tragi-Comedy, called The Perjured
Husband, but the plays which gained her most reputation were, two
Comedies, the Gamester, and the Busy Body. She wrote also several
copies of verses on divers subjects, and occasions, and many ingenious
letters, entitled Letters of Wit, Politics, and Morality, which I
collected, and published about 21 years ago[A].'
Her dramatic works are,
1. The Perjured Husband, a Comedy; acted at the Theatre-Royal 1702,
dedicated to the late Duke of Bedford. Scene Venice.
2. The Beau's Duel, or a Soldier for the Ladies, a Comedy; acted at
the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, 1703; a Criticism was written
upon this play in the Post-Angel for August. 3. The Stolen Heiress, or
The Salamancha Doctor Out-plotted; a Comedy; acted at the Theatre in
Lincolns-Inn-Fields 1704. The scene Palermo.
4. The Gamester, a Comedy; acted at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields
1704, dedicated to George Earl of Huntingdon. This play is an improved
translation of one of the same title in French. The prologue was
written by Mr. Rowe.
5. The Basset Table, a Comedy; acted at the Theatre-Royal in
Drury-Lane, dedicated to Arthur Lord Altham, 4to. 1706.
6. Love's Contrivance, or Le Medicin Malgre lui; a Comedy; acted
at Drury-Lane 1705, dedicated to the Earl of Dorset. This is a
translation from Moliere.
7. Love at a Venture, a Comedy; acted at Bath, 4to. 1706, dedicated to
the Duke of Beaufort.
8. The Busy Body, acted at the Theatre-Royal 1708, dedicated to Lord
Somers. This play was acted with very great applause.
9. Marplot, or the Second Part of the Busy Body; acted at the
Theatre-Royal 1709, dedicated to the Earl of Portland.
10. The Perplex'd Lovers, a Comedy; acted at the Theatre-Royal 1710,
dedicated to Sir Henry Furnace.
11. The Platonic Lady, a Comedy; acted at the Theatre-Royal 1711. 12.
The Man's Bewitch'd, or The Devil to do about Her; a Comedy; acted
at the Theatre in the Haymarket 1712, dedicated to the Duke of
13. The Wonder, a Woman keeps a Secret, a Comedy; acted at the
Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane. This play was acted with success.
14. The Cruel Gift, or The Royal Resentment; a Tragedy; acted at the
Theatre-Royal 1716, for the story of this play consult Sigismonda and
Guiscarda, a Novel of Boccace.
15. A Bold Stroke for a Wife, a Comedy; acted at the Theatre in
Lincoln's-Inn-Fields 1717, dedicated to the Duke of Wharton. Besides
these plays Mrs. Centlivre has written three Farces; Bickerstaff's
Burying, or Work for the Upholders. The Gotham Election. A Wife well
[Footnote A: See Bayer's Political State, vol. xxvi. p.670.]
* * * * *
Dr. NICHOLAS BRADY,
This revd. gentleman was son of Nicholas Brady, an officer in the
King's army, in the rebellion 1641, being lineally descended from Hugh
Brady, the first Protestant bishop of Mieath[A]. He was born at Bandon
in the county of Cork, on the 28th of October 1659, and educated
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