The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753)
Part 3 out of 6
Majesty's power to serve him: but coming to a serious explanation of
his meaning, he told the lord treasurer, that he well knew the nature
of courts, and that whoever is distinguished by a Prince's favour, is
certainly expected to vote in his interest. The lord Danby told him,
that his Majesty had only a just sense of his merits, in regard to
which alone, he desired to know whether there was any place at
court he could be pleased with. These offers, though, urged with
the greatest earnestness, had no effect upon him; he told the lord
treasurer, that he could not accept it with honour, for he must either
be ungrateful to the King by voting against him, or betray his country
by giving his voice against its interest, at least what he reckoned
so. The only favour therefore which he begged of his Majesty, was,
that he would esteem him as dutiful a subject as any he had, and
more in his proper interest in rejecting his offers, than if he had
embraced them. The lord Danby finding no arguments would prevail, told
him, the King had ordered a thousand pounds for him, which he hoped he
would accept, 'till he could think what farther to ask of his Majesty.
This last temptation was refused with the same stedfastness of mind as
The reader must have already taken notice that Mr. Marvel's chief
support was the pension allowed him by his constituents, that his
lodgings, were mean, and consequently his circumstances at this time
could not be affluent. His resisting these temptations therefore in
such a situation, was perhaps one of the most heroic instances of
patriotism the Annals of England can furnish. But his conduct will be
still heightened into a more amiable light, when it is related, that
as soon as the lord treasurer had taken his leave, he was obliged to
send to a friend to borrow a guinea. As the most powerful allurements
of riches, and honour, could never seduce him to relinquish the
interest of his country, so not even the most immense dangers could
deter him from pursuing it. In a private letter to a friend from
Highgate, in which he mentions the insuperable hatred of his foes to
him, and their design of murthering him, he has these words; Praeterea
magis eccidere metuo quam occidi, non quod vitam tanti aestimem, sed
ne imparatus moriar, i.e., 'Besides, I am more apprehensive of killing,
than being killed, not that I value life so much, but that I may not
die unprepared.' Mr. Marvel did not remain an unconcerned member of
the state, when he saw encroachments made upon it both by the civil,
and ecclesiastical powers. He saw that some of the bishops had formed
an idea of protestantism very different from the true one, and
were making such advances towards popery, as would soon issue in a
reconciliation. Amongst these ecclesiastics, none was so forward
as Dr. Samuel Parker, who published at London 1672 in 8vo. bishop
Bramhal's Vindication of himself, and the Episcopal Clergy, from the
Presbyterian charge of Popery, as it is managed by Mr. Baxter in his
Treatise on the Grotian Religion. Dr. Parker likewise preached up
the doctrine of Non-resistance, which slavish principle is admirably
calculated to prepare the people for receiving any yoke. Marvel, whose
talent consisted in drollery, more than in serious reasoning, took
his own method of exposing those opinions. He wrote a piece called
The Rehearsal Transposed, in which he very successfully ridiculed Dr.
Parker. This ludicrous essay met with several answers, some serious,
and others humorous; we shall not here enumerate all the Rejoinders,
Replies, and Animad-versions upon it. Wood himself confesses, who was
an avowed enemy to Marvel, 'that Dr. Parker judged it more prudent
rather to lay down the cudgels, than to enter the lists again, with an
untowardly combatant, so hugely well versed, and experienced, in
the then newly refined art of sporting, and jeering buffoonery.'
And bishop Burnet tells us in the History of his own Time, 'That
Dr. Parker, after he had for some years entertained the nation with
several virulent books, was attacked by the liveliest droll of
the age, who wrote in a burlesque stile, but with so peculiar, and
entertaining a conduct, that from the King down to the tradesman, his
book was read with great pleasure. This not only humbled Parker, but
the whole party, for the author of The Rehearsal Transposed, had all
the men of wit on his side.' Dr. Swift likewise in his Apology for
the Tale of a Tub, speaking of the usual fate of common answerers to
books, and how short-lived their labours are, observes, 'That there is
indeed an exception, when any great genius thinks it worth his while
to expose a foolish piece; so we still read Marvel's answer to Parker
with pleasure, though the book it answers be sunk long ago.'
The next controversy in which we find Mr. Marvel engaged, was with
an antagonist of the pious Dr. Croft, bishop of Hereford, who wrote a
discourse entitled The Naked Truth, or A True State of the Primitive
Church: By an humble Moderator. Dr. Turner, fellow of St. John's
College, wrote Animadversions upon this book; Mr. Marvel's answer to
these Animadversions, was entitled Mr. Smirk, or The Divine in Mode;
being certain Annotations upon the Animadversions on The Naked Truth,
together with a Short Historical Essay concerning General Councils,
Creeds, and Impositions in Matters of Religion, printed 1676.
Our author's next work was An Account of the Growth of Popery, and
Arbitrary Government in England; more particularly from the long
prorogation of November 1675, ending February 15, 1676, 'till the
meeting of Parliament July 15, 1677, printed in folio 1678. Our author
in a letter dated June 10, 1678, wrote thus; 'There came out about
Christmas last here, a large book concerning the Growth of Popery,
and Arbitrary Government. There have been great rewards offered in
private, and considerable, in the Gazette, to any, who would inform of
the author, and Printer, but not yet discovered. Three or four printed
books since have described (as near as was proper to go, the man being
a member of Parliament) Mr. Marvel to be the author, but if he had, he
surely could not have escaped being questioned in Parliament, or 'Some
other place.' This book was so offensive to the court at that time,
that an order was published in these words,
'Whereas there have been lately printed, and published several
seditious, and scandalous libels against the proceedings of both
Houses of Parliament, and other his Majesty's Courts of Justice,
to the dishonour of his Majesty's government, and the hazard of the
public peace, these are to give notice, that what person soever shall
discover unto one of the secretaries of state, the printer, publisher,
author, or hander to the press of any of the said libels, so that
full evidence may be made thereof to a Jury, without mentioning the
informer, especially one libel, entitled An Account of the Growth
of Popery; and another called A Reasonable Argument to all the Grand
Juries, &c. the discoverer shall be rewarded as follows; he shall
have fifty pounds for such discovery as aforesaid, of the printer or
publisher of it from the press, and for the hander of it to the press,
one hundred pounds.'
Mr. Marvel begins this book with a panegyric on the constitution of
the English government, shewing how happy the people are under such
wholesome laws, which if faithfully observed, must make a people
happy, and a monarch great. He observes, that the king and the subject
are equally under the laws; and that the former is no longer king than
he continues to obey them. 'So that, says he, the kings of England,
are in nothing inferior to other princes, save in being more abridg'd
from injuring their own subjects, but have as large a field as any of
external felicity, wherein to exercise their own virtue, and to reward
and encourage it in others. In short there is nothing that comes
nearer the divine perfection, than when the monarch, as with us,
enjoys a capacity of doing all the good imaginable to mankind, under a
disability of all that is evil.'
After slightly tracing popery from earlier times, he begins with the
Dutch war in 1665; but dwells most upon the proceedings at Rome, from
November 1675, to July 1677. He relates the occasion of the Dutch war,
shews that the papists, and the French in particular, were the true
springs of all our councils; and draws the following picture of
'It is such a thing, as cannot but for want of a word to express it,
be called a religion; nor is it to be mentioned with that civility,
which is otherwise decent to be used in speaking of the differences of
human opinions about divine matters; were it either open Juadism,
or plain Turkery, or, there is yet a certain Bona Fides in the most
extravagant belief, and the sincerity of an erroneous profession may
render it more pardonable: But this is a compound of all the three,
an extract of whatever is most ridiculous or impious in them,
incorporated with more peculiar absurdities of its own, in which those
were deficient; and all this deliberately contrived, and knowingly
carried on, by the solid imposture of priests, under the name of
This great man died, not without strong suspicions of being poisoned,
August 16, 1678, in the 58th year of his age, and was interred in the
church of St. Giles's in the Fields; and in the year 1688 the town of
Kingston upon Hull contributed a sum of money to erect a monument over
him, in St. Giles's church, for which an epitaph was composed by an
able hand; but the minister of that church, piously forbad both the
inscription and monument to be placed there.
Mr. Wood tells us, that in his conversation, he was very modest, and
of few words; and Mr. Cooke observes, 'that he was very reserved among
people he did not very well know; but a most delightful, and improving
companion amongst his friends.'
In the year 1680, his miscellaneous poems were published, to which
is prefixed this advertisement. 'These are to certify every ingenious
reader, that all these poems, as also the other things in this book
contained, are printed according to the exact copies of my late dear
husband, under his own hand writing, both found since his death, among
his other papers.
Witness my hand,
But Mr. Cooke informs us, 'that these were published with a mercenary
view; and indeed not at all to the honour of the deceased, by a woman
with whom he lodged, who hoped by this stratagem to share in what he
left behind him.'
He was never married, and the same gentleman observes in another
place, that in the editions of 1681, there are such gross errors,
especially in the Latin Poems, as make several lines unintelligible;
and that in the volume of Poems on Affairs of State, the same mistakes
are as frequent; and in those, some pieces are attributed to our
author, which he never wrote. Most of his Poems printed in Dryden's
Miscellanies are so imperfect, that whole stanzas are omitted in many
These Mr. Cooke has restored in his edition of the works of Andrew
Marvel, Esq; printed at London 1725, in two volumes, and corrected
such faults as in either of the two former editions obscure the sense:
in this edition are also added, some poems from original manuscripts.
Great care has likewise been taken by Mr. Cooke, to retrench such
pieces as he was sure were not genuine.
Mr. Marvel, considered as a statesman, makes a more conspicuous
figure than any of the age in which he lived, the proceeding, or the
subsequent: He possessed the first quality of a statesman, that is,
inviolable integrity, and a heart so confirmed against corruption,
that neither indigence, a love of pomp or even dangers the most
formidable, could move his settled purpose, to pursue in every
respect, the interest of his country.
That Marvel understood the true interest of his country, is abundantly
clear, from the great reverence paid to his opinion, by such persons
as were most able to discern, and most disposed to promote its
welfare. He has succeeded to a miracle in the droll way of writing;
and when he assumes a severity, and writes seriously his arguments and
notions are far removed from imbecility.
As a poet, I cannot better delineate his character than in the words
of Mr. Cooke, 'There are few of his poems (says he) that have not
something very pleasing in them, and some he must be allowed to have
excelled in; most of them seem to be the effect of a lively genius,
and manly sense, but at the same time seem to want that correctness
he was capable of making. His most finished pieces are upon Milton's
Paradise Lost, and upon Blood's stealing the crown; the latter of
which is very satirical.'
On BLOOD's stealing the Crown.
When daring Blood, his rent to have regain'd,
Upon the English diadem distrain'd;
He chose the cassoc, circingle, and gown,
The fittest mask for one that robs the crown:
But his lay-pity underneath prevail'd,
And, while he sav'd the keeper's life, he fail'd.
With the priest's vestment had he but put on
The prelate's cruelty, the crown had gone.
'In his state Poems, is contained much of the secret history of
king Charles the IId, in which time they were all written. They
were composed on various occasions, and chiefly to expose a corrupt
ministry, and the violence of those who were for persecuting all who
differed from them in opinion. He has several Poems in Latin, some
of which he translated into English, and one in Greek. They have each
their proper merit; he discovers a great facility in writing the Latin
tongue. There are some small pieces of his in prose, which ought not
to escape observation. From his letter to Sir John Trott, there seems
to have been a friendly correspondence between him and that gentleman.
By his Familiar Letters, we may easily judge what part of his works
are laboured, and what not. But of all his pieces in Prose, the King's
Mock-Speech to both Houses of Parliament, has most of spirit, and
humour. As it will furnish the best specimen of Mr. Marvel's genius
for drollery, as well as the character of that prince and ministry, we
shall here insert it, as a performance of the most exquisite humour we
have ever seen.
His Majesty's most gracious Speech to both
Houses of Parliament.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
'I told you, at our last meeting, the winter was
the fittest time for business, and truly I thought
so, till my lord treasurer assured me the spring was
the best season for sallads and subsidies. I hope
therefore, that April will not prove so unnatural a
month, as not to afford some kind showers on my
parched exchequer, which gapes for want of them.
Some of you, perhaps, will think it dangerous to
make me too rich; but I do not fear it; for I promise
you faithfully, whatever you give me I will
always want; and although in other things my
word may be thought a slender authority, yet in
that, you may rely on me, I will never break it.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
I can bear my straits with patience; but my lord
treasurer does protest to me, that the revenue, as it
now stands, will not serve him and me too. One
of us must suffer for it, if you do not help me. I
must speak freely to you, I am under bad circumstances,
for besides my harlots in service, my Reformado
Concubines lie heavy upon me. I have a
passable good estate, I confess, but, God's-fish, I
have a great charge upon't. Here's my lord treasurer
can tell, that all the money designed for next
summer's guards must, of necessity, be applyed to
the next year's cradles and swadling-cloths. What
shall we do for ships then? I hint this only to you,
it being your business, not mine. I know, by experience,
I can live without ships. I lived ten years
abroad without, and never had my health better in
my life; but how you will be without, I leave to
yourselves to judge, and therefore hint this only by
the by: I do not insist upon it. There's another
thing I must press more earnestly, and that is this:
It seems, a good part of my revenue will expire in
two or three years, except you will be pleased to
continue it. I have to say for't; pray why did you
give me so much as you have done, unless you resolve
to give as fast as I call for it? The nation
hates you already for giving so much, and I'll hate
you too, if you do not give me more. So that if
you stick not to me, you must not have a friend in
England. On the other hand, if you will give me
the revenue I desire, I shall be able to do those
things for your religion and liberty, that I have had
long in my thoughts, but cannot effect them without
a little more money to carry me through.
Therefore look to't, and take notice, that if you
do not make me rich enough to undo you, it shall
lie at your doors. For my part, I wash my hands
on't. But that I may gain your good opinion, the
best way is to acquaint you what I have done to deserve
it, out of my royal care for your religion and
your property. For the first, my proclamation is a
true picture of my mind. He that cannot, as in a
glass, see my zeal for the church of England, does
not deserve any farther satisfaction, for I declare
him willful, abominable, and not good. Some
may, perhaps, be startled, and cry, how comes
this sudden change? To which I answer, I am a
changling, and that's sufficient, I think. But to
convince men farther, that I mean what I say, there
are these arguments.
First, I tell you so, and you know I never break
Secondly, my lord treasurer says so, and he never
told a lye in his life.
Thirdly, my lord Lauderdale will undertake it
for me; and I should be loath, by any art of mine,
he should forfeit the credit he has with you.
If you desire more instances of my zeal, I have
them for you. For example, I have converted my
natural sons from Popery; and I may say, without
vanity, it was my own work, so much the more
peculiarly mine than the begetting them. 'Twould
do one's heart good to hear how prettily George can
read already in the Psalter. They are all fine children,
God bless 'em, and so like me in their understandings!
But, as I was saying, I have, to please
you, given a pension to your favourite, my lord
Lauderdale; not so much that I thought he wanted
it, as that you would take it kindly. I have made
Carwel duchess of Portsmouth, and marry'd her
sister to the earl of Pembroke. I have, at my brother's
request, lent my lord Inchequin into Barbary,
to settle the Protestant religion among the Moors,
and an English interest at Tangier. I have made
Crew bishop of Durham, and, at the first word of
my lady Portsmouth, Prideaux bishop of Chichester.
I know not, for my part, what factious men would
have; but this I am sure of, my predecessors never
did any thing like this, to gain the good-will of their
subjects. So much for your religion, and now for
your property. My behaviour to the bankers is
a public instance; and the proceedings between
Mrs. Hyde and Mrs. Sutton, for private ones, are
such convincing evidences, that it will be needless
to say any more to't.
I must now acquaint you, that, by my lord treasurer's
advice, I made a considerable retrenchment
upon my expences in candies and charcoal, and do
not intend to stop there, but will, with your help,
look into the late embezzlements of my dripping-pans
and kitchenstuff; of which, by the way, upon
my conscience, neither my lord treasurer, nor my
lord Lauderdale, are guilty. I tell you my opinion;
but if you should find them dabling in that business,
I tell you plainly, I leave 'em to you; for, I would
have the world to know, I am not a man to be
My Lords and Gentlemen,
I desire you to believe me as you have found me;
and I do solemnly promise you, that whatsoever
you give me shall be specially managed with the
same conduct, trust, sincerity, and prudence, that
I have ever practiced, since my happy restoration.'
In order to shew the versification of Mr. Marvel, we shall add a
beautiful dialogue between the resolved soul, and created pleasure. It
is written with a true spirit of poetry, the numbers are various,
and harmonious, and is one of the best pieces, in the serious way, of
which he is author.
A DIALOGUE between the Resolved SOUL
and Created PLEASURE.
Courage, my Soul, now learn to weild
The weight of thine immortal shield.
Close on thy head thy helmet bright;
Ballance thy sword against the fight.
See where an army, strong as fair,
With silken banners spreads the air.
Now, if thou be'st that thing divine,
In this day's combat let it shine;
And shew that nature wants an art
To conquer one resolved heart.
Welcome the creation's guest,
Lord of earth, and heaven's heir;
Lay aside that warlike crest,
And of nature's banquet share:
Where the Souls of fruits and flow'rs,
Stand prepar'd to heighten yours.
I sup above, and cannot stay,
To bait so long upon the way.
On these downy pillows lye,
Whose soft plumes will thither fly:
On these roses, strew'd so plain
Lest one leaf thy side should strain.
My gentler rest is on a thought,
Conscious of doing what I ought.
If thou be'st with perfumes pleas'd,
Such as oft the gods appeas'd,
Thou in fragrant clouds shalt show
Like another god below.
A Soul that knows not to presume,
Is heaven's, and its own, perfume.
Every thing does seem to vye
Which should first attract thine eye;
But since none deserves that grace,
In this crystal view thy face.
When the creator's skill is priz'd,
The rest is all but earth disguis'd.
Hark how music then prepares,
For thy stay, these charming airs;
Which the posting winds recall,
And suspend the river's fall.
Had I but any time to lose,
On this I would it all dispose.
Cease Tempter. None can chain a mind,
Whom this sweet cordage cannot bind.
Earth cannot shew so brave a sight,
As when a single Soul does fence
The batt'ry of alluring sense,
And Heaven views it with delight.
Then persevere; for still new charges sound;
And if thou overcom'st thou shalt be crown'd.
All that's costly, fair, and sweet,
Which scatteringly doth shine,
Shall within one beauty meet,
And she be only thine.
If things of sight such heavens be,
What heavens are those we cannot see?
Wheresoe'er thy foot shall go
The minted gold shall lye;
Till thou purchase all below,
And want new worlds to buy.
Wer't not for price who'd value gold?
And that's worth nought that can be sold.
Wilt thou all the glory have
That war or peace commend?
Half the world shall be thy slave,
The other half thy friend.
What friends, if to my self untrue?
What slaves, unless I captive you?
Thou shalt know each hidden cause;
And see the future time:
Try what depth the centre draws;
And then to heaven climb.
None thither mounts by the degree
Of knowledge, but humility.
Triumph, triumph, victorious Soul;
The world has not one pleasure more;
The rest does lye beyond the pole,
And is thine everlasting store.
We shall conclude the life of Mr. Marvel, by presenting the reader
with that epitaph, which was intended to be inscribed upon his tomb,
in which his character is drawn in a very masterly manner.
Near this place
Lieth the body of ANDREW MARVEL, Esq;
A man so endowed by nature,
So improved by education, study, and travel,
So consummated, by experience and learning;
That joining the most peculiar graces of wit
With a singular penetration and strength of judgment,
And exercising all these in the whole course of his life,
With unalterable steadiness in the ways of virtue,
He became the ornament and example of his age,
Beloved by good men, fear'd by bad, admired by all,
Tho' imitated, alas! by few;
And scarce paralleled by any.
But a tombstone can neither contain his character,
Nor is marble necessary to transmit it to posterity.
It is engraved in the minds of this generation,
And will be always legible in his inimitable writings.
He having served near twenty-years successively in
And that, with such wisdom, integrity, dexterity,
As became a true patriot,
The town of Kingiton upon Hull,
From whence he was constantly deputed to that
Lamenting in his death the public loss,
Have erected this monument of their grief and
He died in the 58th year of his age
On the 16th day of August 1678.
Heu fragile humanum genus! heu terrestria vana!
Heu quem spectatum continet urna virum!
[Footnote A: A disappointment occasioned our throwing this life out
of the chronlogical order. But we hope the candid reader will pardon
a fault of this kind: we only wish he may find nothing of more
consequence to accuse us of.]
[Footnote B: Cook's Life of Andrew Marvel, Esq; prefixed to the first
volume of Mr. Marvel's Works, London 1726.]
[Footnote C: Life ubi supri.]
[Footnote D: Mr. John Oxenbridge, who was made fellow of Eton College
curing the civil war, but ejected at the Restoration; he died in New
England, and was a very enthusiastic person.]
* * * * *
Mrs. ELIZABETH THOMAS,
This lady, who is known in the world by the poetial name of Corinna,
seems to have been born for misfortunes; her very bitterest enemies
could never brand her with any real crime, and yet her whole life
has been one continued scene of misery[A]. The family from which she
sprung was of a rank in life beneath envy, and above contempt. She was
the child of an ancient, and infirm parent, who gave her life when
he was dying himself, and to whose unhappy constitution she was sole
heiress. From her very birth, which happened 1675, she was afflicted
with fevers and defluxions, and being over-nursed, her constitution
was so delicate and tender, that had she not been of a gay
disposition, and possessed a vigorous mind, she must have been more
unhappy than she actually was. Her father dying when she was scarce
two years old, and her mother not knowing his real circumstances, as
he was supposed from the splendour of his manner of life to be very
rich, some inconveniencies were incurred, in bestowing upon him a
pompous funeral, which in those times was fashionable. The mother of
our poetess, in the bloom of eighteen, was condemned to the arms of
this man, upwards of 60, upon the supposition of his being wealthy,
but in which she was soon miserably deceived. When the grief, which
so young a wife may be supposed to feel for an aged husband, had
subsided, she began to enquire into the state of his affairs, and
found to her unspeakable mortification, that he died not worth one
thousand pounds in the world. As Mrs. Thomas was a woman of good
sense, and a high spirit, she disposed of two houses her husband kept,
one in town, the other in the county of Essex, and retired into a
private, but decent country lodging. The chambers in the Temple her
husband possessed, she sold to her brother for 450 l. which, with her
husband's books of accounts, she lodged in her trustee's hands, who
being soon after burnt out by the fire in the paper buildings in the
temple (which broke out with such violence in the dead of night, that
he saved nothing but his life) she lost considerably. Not being
able to make out any bill, she could form no regular demand, and was
obliged to be determined by the honour of her husband's clients, who
though persons of the first fashion, behaved with very little honour
to her. The deceased had the reputation of a judicious lawyer, and
an accomplished gentleman, but who was too honest to thrive in his
profession, and had too much humanity ever to become rich. Of all
his clients, but one lady behaved with any appearance of honesty. The
countess dowager of Wentworth having then lost her only daughter the
lady Harriot (who was reputed the mistress of the duke of Monmouth)
told Mrs. Thomas, 'that she knew she had a large reckoning with the
deceased, but, says she, as you know not what to demand, so I know
not what to pay; come, madam, I will do better for you than a random
reckoning, I have now no child, and have taken a fancy to your
daughter; give me the girl, I will breed her as my own, and provide
for her as such when I die.' The widow thank'd her ladyship, but with
a little too much warmth replied, 'she would not part with her child
on any terms;' which the countess resented to such a degree, that she
would never see her more, and dying in a few years, left 1500 l. per
annum inheritance, at Stepney, to her chambermaid.
Thus were misfortunes early entailed upon this lady. A proposal which
would have made her opulent for life, was defeated by the unreasonable
fondness of her mother, who lived to suffer its dismal consequences,
by tasting the bitterest distresses. We have already observed, that
Mrs. Thomas thought proper to retire to the country with her daughter.
The house where she boarded was an eminent Cloth-worker's in the
county of Surry, but the people of the house proved very disagreeable.
The lady had no conversation to divert her; the landlord was an
illiterate man, and the rest of the family brutish, and unmannerly.
At last Mrs. Thomas attracted the notice of Dr. Glysson, who observing
her at church very splendidly dressed, sollicited her acquaintance. He
was a valuable piece of antiquity, being then, 1684, in the hundredth
year of his age. His person was tall, his bones very large, his hair
like snow, a venerable aspect, and a complexion, which might shame
the bloom of fifteen. He enjoyed a sound judgment, and a memory so
tenacious, and clear, that his company was very engaging. His visits
greatly alleviated the solitude of this lady. The last visit he
made to Mrs. Thomas, he drew on, with much attention, a pair of
rich Spanish leather gloves, embost on the backs, and tops with gold
embroidery, and fringed round with gold plate. The lady could not help
expressing her curiosity, to know the history of those gloves, which
he seemed to touch with so much respect. He answered, 'I do respect
them, for the last time I had the honour of approaching my mistress,
Queen Elizabeth, she pulled them from her own Royal hands, saying,
here Glysson, wear them for my sake. I have done so with veneration,
and never drew them on, but when I had a mind to honour those whom
I visit, as I now do you; and since you love the memory of my Royal
mistress, take them, and preserve them carefully when I am gone.' The
Dr. then went home, and died in a few days.
This gentleman's death left her again without a companion, and an
uneasiness hung upon her, visible to the people of the house; who
guessing the cause to proceed from solitude, recommended to her
acquaintance another Physician, of a different cast from the former.
He was denominated by them a conjurer, and was said to be capable
of raising the devil. This circumstance diverted Mrs. Thomas, who
imagined, that the man whom they called a conjurer, must have more
sense than they understood. The Dr. was invited to visit her, and
appeared in a greasy black Grogram, which he called his Scholar's
Coat, a long beard, and other marks of a philosophical negligence.
He brought all his little mathematical trinkets, and played over his
tricks for the diversion of the lady, whom, by a private whisper, he
let into the secrets as he performed them, that she might see there
was nothing of magic in the case. The two most remarkable articles of
his performance were, first lighting a candle at a glass of cold water
(performed by touching the brim before with phosphorus, a chymical
fire which is preserved in water and burns there) and next reading
the smallest print by a candle of six in the pound, at a hundred yards
distance in the open air, and darkest night. This was performed by a
large concave-glass, with a deep pointed focus, quick-silvered on the
backside and set in tin, with a socket for a candle, sconce fashion,
and hung up against a wall. While the flame of the candle was
diametrically opposite to the centre, the rays equally diverging, gave
so powerful a light as is scarce credible; but on the least variation
from the focus, the charm ceased. The lady discerning in this man a
genius which might be improved to better purposes than deceiving
the country people, desired him not to hide his talents, but to push
himself in the world by the abilities of which he seemed possessed.
'Madam, said he, I am now a fiddle to asses, but I am finishing a
great work which will make those asses fiddle to me.' She then asked
what that work might be? He replied, 'his life was at stake if it took
air, but he found her a lady of such uncommon candour, and good sense,
that he should make no difficulty in committing his life and hope
to her keeping.' All women are naturally fond of being trusted with
secrets; this was Mrs. Thomas's failing: the Dr. found it out, and
made her pay dear for her curiosity. 'I have been, continued he, many
years in search of the Philosopher's Stone, and long master of the
smaragdine-table of Hermes Trismegistus; the green and red dragons of
Raymond Lully have also been obedient to me, and the illustrious sages
themselves deign to visit me; yet is it but since I had the honour to
be known to your ladyship, that I have been so fortunate as to obtain
the grand secret of projection. I transmuted some lead I pulled off
my window last night into this bit of gold.' Pleased with the sight of
this, and having a natural propension to the study, the lady snatched
it out of the philosopher's hand, and asked him why he had not
made more? He replied, 'it was all the lead I could find.' She then
commanded her daughter to bring a parcel of lead which lay in the
closet, and giving it to the Chymist, desired him to transmute it into
gold on the morrow. He undertook it, and the next day brought her an
ingot which weighed two ounces, which with the utmost solemnity he
avowed was the very individual lead she gave him, transmuted to gold.
She began now to engage him in serious discourse; and finding by his
replies, that he wanted money to make more powder, she enquired how
much would make a stock that would maintain itself? He replied, one
fifty pounds after nine months would produce a million. She then
begged the ingot of him, which he protested had been transmuted
from lead, and flushed with the hopes of success, hurried to town to
examine whether the ingot was true gold, which proved fine beyond the
standard. The lady now fully convinced of the truth of the empyric's
declaration, took fifty pounds out of the hands of a Banker, and
entrusted him with it.
The only difficulty which remained, was, how to carry on the work
without suspicion, it being strictly prohibited at that time. He was
therefore resolved to take a little house in another county, at a few
miles distance from London, where he was to build a public laboratory,
as a professed Chymist, and deal in such medicines as were most
vendible, by the sale of which to the apothecaries, the expence of the
house was to be defrayed during the operation. The widow was accounted
the housekeeper, and the Dr. and his man boarded with her; to which
she added this precaution, that the laboratory, with the two lodging
rooms over it, in which the Dr. and his man lay, was a different
wing of the building from that where she and her little daughter, and
maid-servant resided; and as she knew some time must elapse before any
profit could be expected, she managed with the utmost frugality. The
Dr. mean time acted the part of a tutor to miss, in Arithmetic, Latin,
and Mathematics, to which she discovered the strongest propensity. All
things being properly disposed for the grand operation, the vitriol
furnace was set to work, which requiring the most intense heat
for several days, unhappily set fire to the house; the stairs were
consumed in an instant, and as it surprized them all in their first
sleep, it was a happy circumstance that no life perished. This unlucky
accident was 300 l. loss to Mrs. Thomas: yet still the grand project
was in a fair way of succeeding in the other wing of the building. But
one misfortune is often followed by another. The next Sunday evening,
while she was reading to, and instructing her little family, a sudden,
and a violent report, like a discharge of cannon was heard; the house
being timber, rocked like a cradle, and the family were all thrown
from their chairs on the ground. They looked with the greatest
amazement on each other, not guessing the cause, when the operator
pretending to revive, fell to stamping, tearing his hair, and raving
like a madman, crying out undone, undone, lost and undone for ever.
He ran directly to the Athanor, when unlocking the door, he found
the machine split quite in two, the eggs broke, and that precious
amalgamum which they contained was scattered like sand among the
ashes. Mrs. Thomas's eyes were now sufficiently opened to discern the
imposture, and, with a very serene countenance, told the empyric, that
accidents will happen, but means might be fallen upon to repair this
fatal disappointment. The Dr. observing her so serene, imagined
she would grant him more money to compleat his scheme, but she soon
disappointed his expectation, by ordering him to be gone, and made
him a present of five guineas, left his desperate circumstances should
induce him to take some violent means of providing for himself.
Whether deluded by a real hope of finding out the Philosopher's Stone,
or from an innate principle of villainy, cannot be determined, but he
did not yet cease his pursuit, and still indulged the golden delusion.
He now found means to work upon the credulity of an old miser,
who, upon the strength of his pretensions, gave him his daughter
in marriage, and embarked all his hoarded treasure, which was very
considerable, in the same chimerical adventure. In a word, the miser's
stock was also lost, the empyric himself, and the daughter reduced to
beggary. This unhappy affair broke the miser's heart, who did not many
weeks survive the loss of his cash. The Dr. also put a miserable
end to his life by drinking poison, and left his wife with two young
children in a state of beggary. But to return to Mrs. Thomas.
The poor lady suffered on this occasion a great deal of inward
anguish; she was ashamed of having reduced her fortune, and
impoverished her child by listening to the insinuations of a madman.
Time and patience at last overcame it; and when her health, which by
this accident had been impaired, was restored to her, she began
to stir amongst her husband's great clients. She took a house in
Bloomsbury, and by means of good economy, and an elegant appearance,
was supposed to be better in the world than she really was. Her
husband's clients received her like one risen from the dead: They came
to visit her, and promised to serve her. At last the duke of Montague
advised her to let lodgings, which way of life she declined, as her
talents were not suited for dealing with ordinary lodgers; but added
she, 'if I knew any family who desired such a conveniency, I would
readily accommodate them.' I take you at your word, replied the duke,
'I will become your sole tenant: Nay don't smile, for I am in earnest,
I love a little freedom more than I can enjoy at home, and I may come
sometimes and eat a bit of mutton, with four or five honest fellows,
whose company I delight in.' The bargain was bound, and proved matter
of fact, though on a deeper scheme than drinking a bottle: And his
lordship was to pass in the house for Mr. Freeman of Hertfordshire.
In a few days he ordered a dinner for his beloved friends, Jack and
Tom, Will and Ned, good honest country-fellows, as his grace called
them. They came at the time appointed; but how surprized was the
widow, when she saw the duke of Devonshire, the lords Buckingham, and
Dorset, and a certain viscount, with Sir William Dutton Colt, under
these feign'd names. After several times meeting at this lady's house,
the noble persons, who had a high opinion of her integrity, entrusted
her with the grand secret, which was nothing less than the project for
Tho' these meetings were held as private as possible, yet suspicions
arose, and Mrs. Thomas's house was narrowly watched; but the
messengers, who were no enemies to the cause, betrayed their trust,
and suffered the noblemen to meet unmolested, or at least without any
dread of apprehension.
The Revolution being effected, and the state came more settled, that
place of rendezvous was quitted: The noblemen took leave of the lady,
with promises of obtaining a pension, or some place in the houshold
for her, as her zeal in that cause highly merited; besides she had a
very good claim to some appointment, having been ruined by shutting up
the Excheqner. But alas! court promises proved an aerial foundation,
and these noble peers never thought of her more. The duke of Montague
indeed made offers of service, and being captain of the band of
pensioners, she asked him to admit Mr. Gwynnet, a gentleman who had
made love to her daughter, into such a post. This he promised, but
upon these terms, that her daughter should ask him for it. The widow
thanked him, and not suspecting that any design was covered under this
offer, concluded herself sure of success: But how amazed was she to
find her daughter (whom she had bred in the most passive subjection)
and who had never discovered the least instance of disobedience,
absolutely refuse to ask any such favour of his grace. She could be
prevailed upon neither by flattery, nor threatning, and continuing
still obstinate in her resolution; her mother obliged her to explain
herself, upon the point of her refusal. She told her then, that the
duke of Montague had already made an attack upon her, that his designs
were dishonourable; and that if she submitted to ask his grace one
favour, he would reckon himself secure of another in return, which he
would endeavour to accomplish by the basest means. This explanation
was too satisfactory; Who does not see the meanness of such an
ungenerous conduct? He had made use of the mother as a tool, for
carrying on political designs; he found her in distress, and as a
recompence for her service, and under the pretence of mending her
fortune, attempted the virtue of her daughter, and would provide for
her, on no other terms, but at the price of her child's innocence.
In the mean time, the young Corinna, a poetical name given her by Mr.
Dryden, continued to improve her mind by reading the politest authors:
Such extraordinary advances had she made, that upon her sending some
poems to Mr. Dryden, entreating his perusal, and impartial sentiments
thereon, he was pleased to write her the following letter.
'I have sent your two poems back again, after
having kept them so long from you: They were
I thought too good to be a woman's; some of my
friends to whom I read them, were of the same
opinion. It is not very gallant I must confess to
say this of the fair sex; but, most certain it is,
they generally write with more softness than
strength. On the contrary, you want neither
vigour in your thoughts, nor force in your expression,
nor harmony in your numbers; and me-thinks,
I find much of Orinda in your manner,
(to whom I had the honour to be related, and
also to be known) but I am so taken up with my
own studies, that I have not leisure to descend to
particulars, being in the mean time, the fair
Most humble, and
Most faithful servant
Nov. 12, 1699. JOHN DRYDEN.
Our amiable poetess, in a letter to Dr. Talbot, Bishop of Durham, has
given some farther particulars of her life. We have already seen that
she was addressed upon honourable terms, by Mr. Gwynnet, of the
Middle Temple, son of a gentleman in Gloucestershire. Upon his
first discovering his passion to Corinna, she had honour enough to
remonstrate to him the inequality of their fortune, as her affairs
were then in a very perplexed situation. This objection was soon
surmounted by a lover, especially as his father had given him
possession of the greatest part of his estate, and leave to please
himself. Mr. Gwynnet no sooner obtained this, than he came to London,
and claimed Corinna's promise of marriage: But her mother being then
in a very weak condition, she could not abandon her in that distress,
to die among strangers. She therefore told Mr. Gwynnet, that as she
had not thought sixteen years long in waiting for him, he could not
think six months long in expectation of her. He replied, with a deep
sigh, 'Six months at this time, my Corinna, is more than sixteen years
have been; you put it off now, and God will put it off for ever.'--It
proved as he had foretold; he next day went into the country, made his
will, sickened, and died April the 16th, 1711, leaving his Corinna the
bequest of six-hundred pounds; and adds she, 'Sorrow has been my food
Had she providentially married him, she had been secure from the
insults of poverty; but her duty to her parent was more prevalent than
considerations of convenience. After the death of her lover, she was
barbarously used: His brother, stifled the will, which compelled her
to have recourse to law; he smothered the old gentleman's conveyance
deed, by which he was enabled to make a bequest, and offered a large
sum of money to any person, who would undertake to blacken Corinna's
character; but wicked as the world is, he found none so compleatly
abandoned, as to perjure themselves for the sake of his bribe. At last
to shew her respect to the memory of her deceased lover, she consented
to an accommodation with his brother, to receive 200 l. down, and
200 l. at the year's end. The first payment was made, and distributed
instantly amongst her mother's creditors; but when the other became
due, he bid her defiance, stood suit on his own bond, and held out
four terms. He carried it from one court to another, till at last
it was brought to the bar of the House of Lords; and as that is
a tribunal, where the chicanery of lawyers can have no weight, he
thought proper to pay the money without a hearing: The gentlemen
of the long-robe had made her sign an instrument, that they should
receive the money and pay themselves: After they had laid their cruel
hands upon it, of the 200 l. the poor distressed lady received but
13 l. 16 s. which reduced her to the necessity of absconding from her
creditors, and starving in an obscure corner, till she was betrayed by
a false friend, and hurried to jail.
Besides all the other calamities of Corinna, she had ever a bad state
of health, occasioned by an accident too curious to be omitted.
In the year 1730 her case was given into the college of physicians,
and was reckoned a very surprizing one. It is as follows.
'In April 1711 the patient swallowed the middle bone of the wing of
a large fowl, being above three inches long; she had the end in
her mouth, and speaking hastily it went forcibly down in the act of
inspiration. After the first surprize, feeling no pain she thought no
more of it; in a few days after, she complained what she eat or drank
lay like a stone in her stomach, and little or nothing pass'd through
her. After three weeks obstruction, she fell into a most violent
bloody flux, attended with a continual pain at the pit of her stomach,
convulsions, and swooning fits; nor had she any ease but while her
stomach was distended with liquids, such as small beer, or gruel:
She continued in this misery, with some little intervals, till the
Christmass following, when she was seized with a malignant fever, and
the convulsions encreased to so high a degree, that she crowed like a
cock, and barked like a dog, to the affrightment of all who saw her,
as well as herself. Dr. Colebatch being called to her relief, and
seeing the almost incredible quantity of blood she voided, said it
was impossible she could live, having voided all her bowels. He was
however prevailed with to use means, which he said could only be by
fetching off the inner coat of her stomach, by a very strong vomit;
he did so, and she brought the hair-veel in rolls, fresh and bleeding;
this dislodged the bone, which split length ways, one half pass'd off
by siege, black as jet, the cartilaginous part at each end consumed,
and sharp on each side as a razor; the other part is still lodged
within her. In this raw and extream weak condition, he put her into a
salivation, unknown to her mother or herself, to carry off the other
part, which shocked them to such a degree, that they sent for Dr.
Garth, who with much difficulty, and against his judgment, was
prevailed on to take it off, and using a healing galenical method,
she began to recover so much strength as to be turned in her bed,
and receive nourishment: But she soon after was seized with the Iliac
Passion, and for eleven days, her excrements came upwards, and no
passage could be forced through her, till one day by Dr. Garth,
with quick-silver. After a few weeks it returned again, and the same
medicine repeated, upon which she recovered, and for some months was
brought to be in a tolerable state of health, only the region of
the spleen much swelled; and at some times, when the bone moved
outwards, as it visibly did to sight and touch, was very painful.--In
July 1713, on taking too strong a purge, a large imposthume bag came
away by stool, on which it was supposed, the cystus, which the bone
had worked for itself, being come away, the bone was voided also; but
her pains continued so extraordinary, she willingly submitted to the
decree of four surgeons, who agreed to make an incision in the left
side of the abdomen, and extract the bone; but one of the surgeons
utterly rejecting the operation, as impracticable, the bone being
lodged in the colon, sent her to Bath, where she found some relief by
pumping, and continued tolerably well for some years, even to bear the
fatigue of an eight years suit at law, with an unjust executor; save
that in over-walking, and sudden passion, she used to be pained, but
not violent; and once or twice in a year a discharge of clean gall,
with some portions of a skin, like thin kid leather, tinged with gall,
which she felt break from the place, and leave her sore within; but
the bone never made any attempt out-wards after the first three years.
Being deprived of a competent fortune, by cross accidents, she has
suffered all the extremities of a close imprisonment, if want of all
the necessaries of life, and lying on the boards for two-years may
be termed such, during which time she never felt the bone. But on her
recovering liberty, and beginning to use exercise, her stomach, and
belly, and head swelled to a monstrous degree, and she was judged in a
galloping dropsy; but no proper medicines taking place, she was given
over as incurable, when nature unexpectedly helped itself, and in
twelve hours time by stool, and vomit, she voided about five gallons
of dirty looking water, which greatly relieved her for some days, but
gathered again as the swelling returned, and always abounded with
a hectic, or suffocating asthma in her stomach, and either a canine
appetite or loathing. She has lately voided several extraneous
membranes different from the former, and so frequent, that it keeps
her very low, some of which she has preserved in spirits, and humbly
implores your honours judgment thereon.'
Under all these calamities, of which the above is a just
representation, did poor Corinna labour; and it is difficult to
produce a life crouded with greater evils. The small fortune which her
father left her, by the imprudence of her mother, was soon squandered:
She no sooner began to taste of life, than an attempt was made upon
her innocence. When she was about being happy in the arms of her
amiable lover Mr. Gwynnet, he was snatched from her by an immature
fate. Amongst her other misfortunes, she laboured under the
displeasure of Mr. Pope, whose poetical majesty she had innocently
offended, and who has taken care to place her in his Dunciad. Mr. Pope
had once vouchsafed to visit her, in company with Henry Cromwel,
Esq; whose letters by some accident fell into her hands, with some of
Pope's answers. As soon as that gentleman died, Mr. Curl found means
to wheedle them from her, and immediately committed them to the press.
This so enraged Pope, that tho' the lady was very little to blame, yet
he never forgave her.
Not many months after our poetess had been released from her gloomy
habitation, she took a small lodging in Fleet street, where she died
on the 3d of February 1730, in the 56th year of her age, and was two
days after decently interred in the church of St. Bride's.
Corinna, considered as an authoress, is of the second rate, she had
not so much wit as Mrs. Behn, or Mrs. Manley, nor had so happy a power
of intellectual painting; but her poetry is soft and delicate, her
letters sprightly and entertaining. Her Poems were published after her
death, by Curl; and two volumes of Letters which pass'd between her
and Mr. Gwynnet. We shall select as a specimen of her poetry, an Ode
addressed to the duchess of Somerset, on her birth-day.
An ODE, &c.
Great, good, and fair, permit an humble muse,
To lay her duteous homage at your feet:
Such homage heav'n itself does not refuse,
But praise, and pray'rs admits, as odours sweet.
Blest be forever this auspicious day,
Which gave to such transcendent virtue birth:
May each revolving year new joys display,
Joys great as can supported be on earth.
True heiress of the Finch and Hatton line,
Formed by your matchless parents equal care
(The greatest statesman he, yet best divine,
She bright example of all goodness here).
And now incircled in the dearest tye,
To godlike Seymour, of connubial love;
Seymour illustrious prince, whose family
Did heretofore the kingly race improve.
Adorns the nation still, and guards the throne,
In noble Somerset, whose generous breast,
Concenters all his ancestors in one,
That were in church, and state, and arms profest.
Yet 'midst the plaudits of a grateful land,
His heaven-born soul reviews his pristine state;
And in obedience to divine command,
Numberless poor are feasted at his gate.
Thrice happy greatness, true philosophy,
That does so well the use of riches know,
And can by charity transpire the sky,
Encompass'd round with splendour here below.
O may posterity from such a pair,
Enjoy a progeny almost divine,
Great as their fire, and as their mother fair,
And good as both, till last extent of time.
[Footnote A: See the Memoirs of Mrs. Thomas's Life, prefixed to a
volume of Letters between her and Mr. Gwynnet; the only account that
is preserved concerning her.]
* * * * *
This worthy gentleman was born at Shelton, near Newcastle under the
Line, in Staffordshire[A]. In this county, though there are several
families of the name of Fenton, yet they are all branches from one
flock, which is a very antient and opulent family: Our author's mother
being immediately descended from one Mare, an officer in William the
Our poet was the youngest of twelve children, and was intended by his
parents for the ministry: He was sent to the university of Cambridge,
where he embraced the principles very opposite to the government, by
which he became disqualified for entering into holy orders. We find
him soon after his quitting the university, secretary to the earl of
Orrery, but how long he remained in that station we cannot ascertain.
After he quitted the service of this noble peer, it was his custom to
perform a visit annually to his eldest brother's house in the country,
who possessed an estate of 1000 l. per annum. He was caressed in the
country, by all his relations, to whom he endeared himself, by his
affable and genteel behaviour. Mr. Fenton was a man of the most tender
humanity, and discovered it upon every proper occasion: A gentleman
resident in that county, who has transmitted to us some account of Mr.
Fenton, has given us the following instance of his humane disposition.
He had a great number of sisters, some of whom were less happy in
their marriages than others; one in particular was exposed to many
misfortunes, by the indiscretion and extravagance of her husband. It
is the custom of some people to make very great distinctions between
their rich and poor relations; Mr. Fenton's brother was of this stamp,
and it seems treated his unfortunate sister with less ceremony than
the rest. One day, while Mr. Fenton, was at his brother's house, he
observed the family going to dinner without this sister, who was in
town, and had as good a right to an invitation, as any of the rest who
dined there as a compliment to him. He could not help discovering his
displeasure at so unnatural a distinction, and would not sit down to
table till she was sent for, and in consequence of this slight shewn
her by the rest of the family, Mr. Fenton treated her with more
tenderness and complaisance than any of his sisters.
Our author carried through life a very fair reputation, he was beloved
and esteemed by Mr. Pope, who honoured him with a beautiful
epitaph. Mr. Fenton after a life of ease and tranquility, died at
East-Hampstead-Park, near Oakingham, the 13th of July 1730, much
regretted by all men of taste, not being obnoxious to the resentment
even of his brother writers.
In the year 1723, Mr. Fenton introduced upon the stage his Tragedy of
Mariamne, built upon the story related of her in the third volume of
the Spectator, Numb. 171, which the ingenious author collected out of
Josephus. As this story so fully displays the nature of the passion of
jealousy, and discovers so extraordinary a character as that of Herod,
we shall here insert it, after which we shall consider with what
success Mr. Fenton has managed the plot. In a former paper, the author
having treated the passion of jealousy in various lights, and marked
its progress through the human mind, concludes his animadversions with
this story, which he says may serve as an example to whatever can be
said on that subject.
'Mariamne had all the charms that beauty,
birth, wit, and youth could give a woman, and
Herod all the love that such charms are able to raise
in a warm and amorous disposition. In the midst of
his fondness for Mariamne, he put her brother
to death, as he did her father not many years
after. The barbarity of the action was represented
to Mark Anthony, who immediately summoned
Herod into Egypt, to answer for the crime
that was laid to his charge: Herod attributed the
summons to Anthony's desire of Mariamne, whom
therefore before his departure, he gave into the custody
of his uncle Joseph, with private orders to
put her to death, if any such violence was offered
to himself. This Joseph was much delighted
with Mariamne's conversation, and endeavoured
with all his art and rhetoric to set out the excess
of Herod's passion for her; but when he still
found her cold and incredulous, he inconsiderately
told her, as a certain instance of her lord's affection,
the private orders he had left behind him, which
plainly shewed, according to Joseph's interpretation,
that he could neither live nor die without
her. This barbarous instance of a wild unreasonable
passion quite put out for a time those little
remains of affection, she still had for her lord:
Her thoughts were so wholly taken up with the
cruelty of his orders, that she could not consider
the kindness which produced them; and therefore
represented him in her imagination, rather
under the frightful idea of a murderer, than a
'Herod was at length acquitted, and dismiss'd
by Mark Anthony, when his soul was all in flames
for his Mariamne; but before their meeting he was
not a little alarmed at the report he had heard
of his uncle's conversation and familiarity with
her in his absence. This therefore was the first
discourse he entertained her with, in which she
found it no easy matter to quiet his suspicions.
But at last he appeared so well satisfied of her
innocence; that from reproaches, and wranglings,
he fell to tears and embraces. Both of them
wept very tenderly at their reconciliation and
Herod pour'd out his whole soul to her in the
warmest protestations of love and constancy; when,
amidst all his sighs and languishings, she asked
him, whether the private orders he left with his
uncle Joseph were an instance of such an enflamed
affection? The jealous king was immediately
roused at so unexpected a question, and concluded
his uncle must have been too familiar with her,
before he would have discovered such a secret.
In short he put his uncle to death, and very difficultly
prevailed on himself to spare Mariamne.
'After this he was forced on a second journey
into Egypt, when he committed his lady to the
care of Sohemus, with the same private orders he
had before given his uncle, if any mischief befel
himself: In the meantime Mariamne had so won
upon Sohemus, by her presents and obliging behaviour,
that she drew all the secret from him,
with which Herod had entrusted him; so that
after his return, when he flew to her, with all the
transports of joy and love, she received him coldly
with sighs and tears, and all the marks of indifference
and aversion. This reception so stirred up
his indignation, that he had certainly slain her
with his own hands, had not he feared he himself
should become the greater sufferer by it. It
was not long after this, when he had another
violent return of love upon him; Mariamne was
therefore sent for to him, whom he endeavoured
to soften and reconcile with all possible conjugal
caresses, and endearments; but she declined his
embraces, and answered all his fondness, with bitter
invectives for the death of her father and
'This behaviour so incensed Herod, that he
very hardly refrained from striking her; when
in the heat of their quarrel, there came in a
witness, suborned by some of Mariamne's enemies,
who accused her to the king of a design
to poison him. Herod was now prepared to hear
any thing in her prejudice, and immediately ordered
her servant to be stretched upon the rack;
who in the extremity of his tortures confest, that
his mistresses aversion to the king arose from
something Sohemus had told her; but as for any
design of poisoning, he utterly disowned the least
knowledge of it. This confession quickly proved
fatal to Sohemus, who now lay under the same
suspicions and sentence, that Joseph had before
him, on the like occasion. Nor would Herod
rest here; but accused her with great vehemence
of a design upon his life, and by his authority
with the judges had her publickly condemned
'Herod soon after her decease grew melancholy
and dejected, retiring from the public administration
of affairs, into a solitary forest, and there
abandoned himself to all the black considerations,
which naturally arise from a passion made up of
love, remorse, pity and despair. He used to rave
for his Mariamne, and to call upon her in his distracted
fits; and in all probability, would have
soon followed her, had not his thoughts been
seasonably called off from so sad an object, by
public storms, which at that time very nearly
Mr. Fenton in the conduct of this design, has shewn himself a very
great master of stage propriety. He has softened the character of
Herod, well knowing that so cruel a tyrant as the story makes him,
could not be born upon the English stage. He has altered the character
of Sohemus, from an honest confident, to a crafty enterprising
statesman, who to raise his master to the throne of Judea, murthered
the natural heir. He has introduced in his drama, a character under
the name of Salome, the king's sister, who bore an implacable hatred
to Mariamne; and who in league with Sohemus pursues her revenge, at no
less a price than that of her brother's and the queen's life.
After the wars, which had subsided between Caesar and Anthony, had
subsided, and the world fell to the share of the former; Herod is
represented as having just returned from Rome, where, as an hostage
to the emperor, he has stipulated to send his younger son there, and
Flaminius, a noble Roman accompanies him into Jewry, to carry off the
young prince. The day in which this dramatic action begins, is upon a
grand festival, appointed in honour of Herod's safe return from Rome,
and being still permitted to enjoy his kingdom. The hard condition of
sending the prince to Rome, greatly affects the heart of the queen,
whom the poet has drawn a most tender mother. This throws a cloud over
the ceremony, and furnishes an opportunity for Sohemus and Salome, to
set their infernal engines at work; who, in conjunction with Sameas
the king's cup bearer, contrive to poison the king and queen at the
feast. But the poisoned cup is first tasted by Hazeroth, a young lord
related to the queen, and the sudden effect which it has upon him
discovers the villainy.
The queen's absence from the feast proves a fatal circumstance, and
as managed by Sohemus, fixes the appearance of guilt upon her. While
Herod was absent at Rome, Sohemus made addresses to Arsinoe, a Roman
lady, confidant to Mariamne; to whom in the ardour of his passion he
revealed the secret entrusted to him by Herod, of putting Mariamne
to death, in case he by any calamitous accident should lose his life.
Arsinoe from a motive of affection communicated this to Mariamne; as
an instance of the violent passion which Herod had for her. This she
did immediately before her departure for Rome, with Flaminius the
Roman envoy, who proved to be the lord of her wishes, whom she
imagined to have been killed in fighting against Mark Anthony.
Mariamne thrown into this imminent danger, orders Arsinoe to be
intercepted, whose return clears up her innocence, as she declares
that no correspondence had ever been carried on between the queen and
Sohemus, of whom he was now jealous, as Mariamne had upbraided him
with his cruel resolutions of putting her to death, entrusted to that
minister. Herod is satisfied of her innocence, by the evidence of
Arsinoe; but as he had before given the cruel orders for patting the
queen to death, she, to prevent the execution of such barbarity, drank
poison. The Queen is conducted in by the high priest in the agonies
of death, which gives such a shock to Herod, that not able to survive
her, he dies in the sight of the audience.
Sohemus, who knew what tortures would be reserved for him, kills
himself, after having sacrificed Sameas, by whose treachery the plot
was discovered, and who in his falling stabs Salome to the heart, as
the last effort of his revenge.
As the plan of this play is regular, simple, and interesting, so
are the sentiments no less masterly, and the characters graphically
distinguished. It contains likewise many beautiful strokes of poetry.
When Narbal, a lord of the queen's party, gives an account to
Flaminius the Roman general, of the queen's parting with her son; he
----A while she stood,
Transform'd by grief to marble, and appear'd
Her own pale monument;
Flaminius consistent with his character as a soldier, answers,
Give me, ye gods! the harmony of war,
The trumpet's clangor, and the clash of arms,
That concert animates the glowing breast,
To rush on death; but when our ear is pierc'd
With the sad notes which mournful beauty yields;
Our manhood melts in symphathising tears.
The character of Sameas the king's cup-bearer, is one of the most
villainous ever shewn upon a stage; and the poet makes Sohemus, in
order to give the audience a true idea of him, and to prepare them for
those barbarities he is to execute, relate the following instance of
----Along the shore
He walk'd one evening, when the clam'rous rage
Of tempests wreck'd a ship: The crew were sunk,
The master only reach'd the neighb'ring strand,
Born by a floating fragment; but so weak
With combating the storm, his tongue had lost
The faculty of speech, and yet for aid
He faintly wav'd his hand, on which he wore
A fatal jewel. Sameas, quickly charm'd
Both by its size, and lustre, with a look
Of pity stoop'd, to take him by the hand;
Then cut the finger off to gain the ring,
And plung'd him back to perish in the waves;
Crying, go dive for more.--I've heard him boast
Of this adventure.
In the 5th act, when Herod is agitated with the rage of jealousy, his
brother Pheroras thus addresses him,
Sir, let her crime
Erase the faithful characters which love
Imprinted on your heart,
HEROD. Alas! the pain
We feel, whene'er we dispossess the soul
Of that tormenting tyrant, far exceeds
The rigour of his rule.
PHERORAS. With reason quell
That haughty passion; treat it as your slave:
Resume the monarch.
The observation, which Herod makes upon this, is very affecting. The
poet has drawn him so tortured with his passion, that he seems almost
sufficiently punished, for the barbarity of cutting off the father and
brother of Mariamne,
HEROD. Where's the monarch now?
The vulgar call us gods, and fondly think
That kings are cast in more than mortal molds;
Alas! they little know that when the mind
Is cloy'd with pomp, our taste is pall'd to joy;
But grows more sensible of grief or pain.
The stupid peasant with as quick a sense
Enjoys the fragrance of a rose, as I;
And his rough hand is proof against the thorn,
Which rankling in my tender skin, would seem
A viper's tooth. Oh blissful poverty!
Nature, too partial! to thy lot assigns
Health, freedom, innocence, and downy peace,
Her real goods; and only mocks the great
With empty pageantries! Had I been born
A cottager, my homely bowl had flow'd
Secure from pois'nous drugs; but not my wife!
Let me, good heav'n! forget that guilty name,
Or madness will ensue.
Some critics have blamed Mariamne, for yielding her affections to
Herod, who had embrued his hands in her father and brother's blood; in
this perhaps she cannot be easily defended, but the poet had a right
to represent this as he literally found it in history; and being the
circumstance upon which all the others depended. Tho' this play is
one of the most beautiful in our language, yet it is in many places
exposed to just criticism; but as it has more beauties than faults, it
would be a kind of violence to candour to shew the blemishes.
The life of Fenton, like other poets who have never been engaged in
public business, being barren of incidents, we have dwelt the longer
on his works, a tribute which his genius naturally demanded from us.
Mr. Fenton's other poetical works were published in one volume 1717,
and consist chiefly of the following pieces.
An Ode to the Sun, for the new year 1707, as a specimen of which we
shall quote the three following stanza's.
Begin celestial source of light,
To gild the new revolving sphere;
And from the pregnant womb of night;
Urge on to birth the infant year.
Rich with auspicious lustre rife,
Thou fairest regent of the skies,
Conspicuous with thy silver bow!
To thee, a god, 'twas given by Jove
To rule the radiant orbs above,
To Gloriana this below.
With joy renew thy destin'd race,
And let the mighty months begin:
Let no ill omen cloud thy face,
Thro' all thy circle smile serene.
While the stern ministers of fate
Watchful o'er the pale Lutetia wait.
To grieve the Gaul's perfidious head;
The hours, thy offspring heav'nly fair,
Their whitest wings should ever wear,
And gentle joys on Albion shed.
When Ilia bore the future fates of Rome,
And the long honours of her race began,
Thus, to prepare the graceful age to come,
They from thy stores in happy order ran.
Heroes elected to the list of fame,
Fix'd the sure columns of her rising state:
Till the loud triumphs of the Julian name
Render'd the glories of her reign compleat,
Each year advanc'd a rival to the rest,
In comely spoils of war, and great achievements drest.
Florelio, a Pastoral, lamenting the death of the marquis of Blandford.
Part of the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah Paraphrased. Verses on the
Cupid and Hymen.
Olivia, a small Poem of humour against a Prude.
The fair Nun, a Tale.
An Epistle addressed to Mr. Southern, written in the year 1711.
The eleventh Book of Homer's Odyssey, translated in Milton's stile.
The Widow's Will; a Tale.
A-La-Mode, a very humorous representation of a fond, doating Husband,
injured by his Wife.
Sappho to Phaon. A Love Epistle, translated from Ovid.
Phaon to Sappho.
A Tale devised in the pleasant manner of Chaucer; in which the Poet
imitates that venerable old Bard, in the obsolete Language of his
Verses addressed to Mr. Pope.
The Platonic Spell.
Marullus de Neaera.
Joannis Secundi Basium I.
Kisses. Translated from Secundus. I know not if all poetry ever
exceeded the smoothness and delicacy of those lines. They flow with
an irresistable enchantment, and as the inserting them will shew the
spirit both of the original and translation, we shall make no further
apology for doing it.
When Venus, in the sweet Idalian shade,
A violet couch for young Ascanius made;
Their op'ning gems, th' obedient roses bow'd
And veil'd his beauties with a damask cloud:
While the bright goddess with a gentle show'r,
Of nectar'd dews, perfum'd the blissful bow'r;
Of sight insatiate, she devours his charms.
Till her soft breast re-kindling ardour warms:
New joys tumultuous in her bosom rowl,
And all Adonis rusheth on her soul.
Transported with each dear resembling grace,
She cries, Adonis!--Sure I see thy face!
Then stoops to clasp the beauteous form, but fears
He'd wake too soon, and with a sigh forbears;
Yet, fix'd in silent rapture, stands to gaze,
Kissing each flow'ring bud that round him plays.
Swell'd with the touch, each animated rose
Expands; and strait with warmer purple glows:
Where infant kisses bloom, a balmy store!
Redoubling all the bliss she felt before.
Sudden, her swans career along the skies,
And o'er the globe the fair celestial flies.
Then, as where Ceres pass'd, the teeming plain,
Yellow'd with wavy crops of golden grain;
So fruitful kisses fell where Venus flew;
And by the power of genial magic grew:
A plenteous harvest! which she deign'd t'impart
To sooth an agonizing love-sick heart.
All hail, ye Roseat kisses! who remove
Our cares, and cool the calenture of love.
Lo! I your poet in melodious lays,
Bless your kind pow'r; enamour'd of your praise:
Lays! form'd to last, 'till barb'rous time invades
The muses hill, and withers all their shades.
Sprung from the Guardian[B] of the Roman name,
In Roman numbers live secure of fame.
Joannis Secundi Basum IId. translated.
An Epistle to Thomas Lambard Esq;
An Ode to the right hon. John lord Gower.
On Mr. ELIJAH FENTON,
At EAST-HAMPSTEAD in BERKS, 1730.
This modest stone, what few vain marbles can,
May truly say, here lies an honest man:
A Poet, bless'd beyond a Poet's fate,
Whom Heav'n kept sacred from the proud and great:
Foe to loud praise, and friend to learned ease,
Content with science in the vale of peace.
Calmly he look'd on either life, and here
Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear;
From nature's temp'rate feast rose satisfy'd
Thank'd Heav'n, that he had liv'd, and that he died.
[Footnote A: See Jacob, p. 55.]
[Footnote B: Venus.]
* * * * *
BARTON BOOTH, Esq;
It[A] is but justice to the memory of this great actor to give him
a place among the poets, if he had been less considerable in that
province than he really was; for he appears early to have understood
the Latin classics, and to have succeeded in occasional pieces, and
little odes, beyond many persons of higher name in poetry. Mr. Booth
was descended from a very ancient, and honourable family, originally
seated in the County Palatine of Lancaster. His father, John Booth,
esq; was a man of great worth and honour; and though his fortune was
not very considerable, he was extremely attentive to the education of
his children, of whom Barton (the third) was born in 1681.
When about nine years of age, he was put under the tuition of the
famous Dr. Busby, head-master of Westminster school, under whom some
of the ablest men have been educated, that in the last and present
age have done honour to the nation. The sprightliness of Booth's parts
early recommended him to the notice of Dr. Busby: he had a strong
passion for learning, and a peculiar turn for Latin poetry, and by
studying the best authors in it, he fixed many of the finest passages
so firmly in his memory, that he was able to repeat them with such
propriety, and graceful action, with so fine a tone of voice, and
peculiar emphasis, that it was taken notice of by the whole school.
In consequence of this happy talent, when, according to the custom of
the school, a Latin play was to be acted, a considerable part thereof
was given to young Booth, who drew by the melody of his voice, and
the gracefulness of his action, the applause of all the spectators,
a circumstance which first fired him with theatrical ambition, much
against the inclination of his father, who intended him for the
church, and was therefore careful of his education. This propension
in our young Roscius, recommended him still more to the favour of
Dr. Busby, who bestowed the most lavish encomiums upon him: Busby was
himself a great admirer of theatrical elocution, and admirably fitted
by nature for the stage; when he was young, he obtained great applause
in a part he performed in a play of Cartwright's, and from that moment
held theatrical accomplishments in the highest esteem.
When Booth had reached the age of eighteen, and the time approached
when he was to have been sent to the university, he resolved to run
any risk, rather than enter upon a course of life inconsistent
with the liveliness of his temper, and the natural bent of his
inclinations. It happened that there was then in London one Mr.
Ashbury, who had been long master of a company at Dublin, with whom
young Booth became acquainted, and finding that under his direction
there was no danger of his getting a livelihood, he quitted all other
views, stole away from school, and went over to Ireland with Mr.
Ashbury in 1698.[B]
He very soon distinguished himself on the stage at Dublin, where
he had great natural advantages over most of his cotemporaries,
especially in tragedy; he had a grave countenance, a good person, an
air of dignity, a melodious voice, and a very manly action. He spoke
justly, his cadence was grateful to the ear, and his pronunciation was
scholastically correct and proper. He so far insinuated himself into
the favour of English gentlemen in Ireland, and found his reputation
growing to so great a heighth, that he returned home in 1701, to make
a trial of his talents on the British stage. He accordingly applied to
lord Fitzharding, of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark, and
was by him recommended to Mr. Betterton, who took him under his care,
and gave him all the assistance in his power, of which Mr. Booth
Never were a tutor and pupil better met; the one was capable of giving
the best instructions in his own performance, and the other had a
promptness of conception, a violent propensity, and a great genius.
The first part Booth performed in London was Maximus in Valentinian,
a play of Beaumont and Fletcher's originally, but altered, and brought
upon the stage by the earl of Rochester. The reception he met with
exceeded his warmest hopes, and the favour of the town had a happy
effect upon him, in inspiring him with a proper degree of confidence
without vanity. The Ambitious Step-mother, a tragedy written by Mr.
Rowe, in which that author has thrown out more fire, and heat of
poetry, than in any other of his plays, was about this time introduced
upon the stage; the part of Artaban was assigned to Booth, in which he
raised his character to such a heighth, as to be reckoned only second
to his great master.
In the year 1704 he married Miss Barkham, daughter to Sir William
Barkham of Norfolk, bart. who lived with him six years, and died
without issue. In the theatrical revolutions which happened in those
days, Mr. Booth, notwithstanding his great capacity, and reputation
with the town, had very little share. He adhered constantly to Mr.
Betterton, while he could be of any service to him, and when his tutor
retired from the management of the stage, he trusted to his merit, and
the taste of the public, in which he was never deceived.
Mr. Booth was particularly turned for tragedy, he never could bear
those parts which had not strong passion to inspire him; and Mr.
Cibber observes, that he could not so well melt in the lover, as rage
in the jealous husband. Othello was his master-piece, but in all his
parts he was often subject to a kind of indolence, which some people
imagined he affected, to shew that even in his lazy fits he was
superior to every body upon the stage; _as if secure of all beholders
hearts, neglecting he could take them._[C] The late ingenious Mr.
Whitingham, who perfectly understood theatrical excellence, and
who was, beyond any man I ever knew, distinct, and accurate in his
relations of things, often told me, that such was the dignity of
Booth's appearance, such his theatrical ease, and gracefulness, that
had he only crossed the stage without uttering a word, the house would
be in a roar of applause.
We come now to that period of time, when Mr. Booth's sole merit raised
him to the greatest height, and procured for him that reward he had
long deserved. The tragedy of Cato, which had been written in the year
1703, or at least four acts of it, was brought upon the stage in 1712,
chiefly on a political principle; the part of Cato was given to Booth,
for the managers were very well satisfied that nobody else could
perform it. As party prejudice never than higher than at that time,
the excellency of the play was distinguished by the surprizing
contests between both factions, which should applaud it most, so
the merit of the actor received the same marks of approbation, both
parties taking care to shew their satisfaction, by bestowing upon him,
most liberal presents, the particulars of which are already inserted
in the life of Addison. The run of Cato being over at London, the
managers thought fit to remove to Oxford in the summer, where the play
met with so extraordinary a reception, that they were forced to open
the doors at noon, and the house was quite full by one o'clock. The
same respect was paid it for three days together, and though the
universal applause it met with at London, surpassed any thing that had
been remembered of that kind, yet the tribute of praise it received
from this famous university, surpassed even that. Booth, whose
reputation was now at its heighth, took the advantage of it, and
making his application to lord Bolingbroke, then at the head of the
ministry, he procured a new licence, recalling all former ones, and
Mr. Booth's name was added to those of Cibber, Dogget, and Wilks.
Tho' none of the managers had occasion to be pleased with this act of
justice done to Booth's merit, at the expence of, what they deemed,
their property, yet none of them carried their resentment so high as
Mr. Dogget, who absolutely refused to accept of any consideration for
his share in the scenes and clothes; this obstinacy had however no
other effect, than depriving him of his share, which brought him in
1000 l. a year; though Mr. Cibber informs us, that this was only a
pretence, and that the true reason of quitting the stage, was,
his dislike to another of the managers, whose humour was become
insupportable. This person we conjecture to have been Mr. Wilks, who,
according to Cibber's account, was capricious in his temper, though
he had otherwise great merit as a player, and was a good man, morally
considered; some instances of the generosity and noble spirit of
Wilks, are taken notice of in the life of Farquhar.
A few years after Mr. Booth rose to the dignity of manager, he married
the celebrated Miss Santlowe, who, from her first appearance as an
actress in the character of the Fair Quaker of Deal, to the time she
quitted the stage, had always received the strongest marks of public
applause, which were repeated when after a retreat of some years, she
appeared there again. By her prudence in managing the advantages
that arose to her from her reputation as an actress, and her great
diligence in her profession, she acquired a considerable fortune,
which was very useful to Mr. Booth, who, from the natural turn of
his temper, though he had a strict regard to justice, was not much
inclined to saving.
During the few years they lived together, there was the greatest
harmony between them, and after the death of Booth, his disconsolate
widow, who is yet alive, quitted the stage, and devoted herself
entirely to a private course of life. By degrees the health of Mr.
Booth began to decline, so that it was impossible for him to continue
to act with so much diligence as usual, but at whatever time he was
able to return to the stage, the town demonstrated their respect
for him by crowding the house. Being attacked by a complication of
distempers, he paid the debt to nature May 10, 1733. A copy of his
Will was printed in the London Magazine for 1733, p. 126, in which
we find he testified his esteem for his wife, to whom he left all his
fortune, for reasons there assigned, which he declared amounted to no
more than two thirds of what he had received from her on the day of
marriage. His character as an actor, has been celebrated by the best
judges, and was never questioned by any. And here we cannot resist the
opportunity of shewing Mr. Booth in that full, and commanding light in
which he is drawn by the late ingenious Aaron Hill, esq; who had long
experience in the affairs of the stage, and could well distinguish the
true merits of an actor. His words are,
'Two advantages distinguished him in the strongest light from the rest
of his fraternity: he had learning to understand perfectly what it
was his part to speak, and judgment to know how far it agreed, or
disagreed with his character. Hence arose a peculiar grace, which was
visible to every spectator, though few were at the pains of examining
into the cause of their pleasure. He could soften, and slide over,
with a kind of elegant negligence, the improprieties in the part he
acted, while, on the contrary, he would dwell with energy upon the
beauties, as if he exerted a latent spirit which had been kept back
for such an occasion, that he might alarm, awaken, and transport in
those places only, where the dignity of his own good sense could
be supported by that of his author. A little reflexion upon this
remarkable quality, will teach us to account for that manifest
languor which has sometimes been observed in his action, and which was
generally, though I think falsly, imputed to the natural indolence of
his temper. For the same reason, though in the customary round of
his business, he would condescend to some parts in comedy; he seldom
appeared in any of them with much advantage to his character. The
passions which he found in comedy, were not strong enough to excite
his fire, and what seemed want of qualification, was only the absence
of impression. He had a talent at discovering the passions where they
lay hid in some celebrated parts, by the injudicious practice of other
actors; when he had discovered he soon grew able to express them; and
his secret of his obtaining this great lesson of the theatre, was
an adaption of his look to his voice, by which artful imitation of
nature, the variations in the sound of his words, gave propriety to
every change in his countenance, so that it was Mr. Booth's peculiar
felicity to be heard and seen the same, whether as the _pleased,_ the
_grieved,_the _pitying,_the _reproachful,_or the _angry_. One would be
almost tempted to borrow the aid of a very bold figure, and to express
this excellence more significantly, beg permission to affirm, that the
blind might have seen him in his voice, and the deaf have heard him in
his visage. His gesture, or as it is commonly called his action, was
but the result, and necessary consequence of his dominion over his
voice and countenance; for having by a concurrence of two such causes,
impressed his imagination with such a stamp, and spirit of passion, he
ever obeyed the impulse by a kind of natural dependency, and relaxed,
or braced successively into all that fine expressiveness with which he
painted what he spoke, without restraint, or affectation.'
But it was not only as a player that Mr. Booth excelled; he was a man
of letters also, and an author in more languages than one. He had a
taste for poetry which we have observed discovered itself when he was
very young, in translations of some Odes of Horace; and in his riper
years he wrote several songs, and other original poems, which did him
honour. He was also the author of a masque, or dramatic entertainment,
called Dido and Aeneas, which was very well received upon the stage,
but which however did not excite him to produce any thing of the
same kind afterwards. His master-piece was a Latin inscription to the
memory of a celebrated actor, Mr. William Smith, one of the greatest
men of his profession, and of whom Mr. Booth alway spoke in raptures.
It is a misfortune that we can give no particular account of the
person this excellent inscription referred to, but it is probable he
was of a good family, since he was a Barrister at Law of Gray's-Inn,
before he quitted that profession for the stage.
The inscription is as follows,
Regnante Carolo secundo:
Bettertono Coaetaneus & Amicus,
Necnon propemodum Aequalis.
Haud ignobili stirpe oriundus,
Nec literarum rudis humaniorum,
Per multos feliciter annos administravit;
Justoque moderamine & morum suavitate,
Omnium intra Theatrum
Observantiam, extra Theatrum Laudem,
Ubique benevolentiam & amorem fibi conciliavit.
In English thus;
An excellent player
In the reign of Charles the Second;
The cotemporary, and friend of Betterton, and almost his equal.
Descended of no ignoble family,
Nor destitute of polite learning.
The business of the stage
He for many years happily managed,
And by his just conduct, and sweetness of manners
Obtained the respect of all within the theatre,
The applause of those without,
And the good will, and love of all mankind.
Such the life and character of Mr. Booth, who deservedly stood very
high in the esteem of mankind, both on account of the pleasure which
he gave them, and the native goodness of heart which he possessed.
Whether considered as a private gentleman, a player, a scholar, or
a poet, Mr. Booth makes a very great figure, and his extraordinary
excellence in his own profession, while it renders his memory dear to
all men of taste, will ever secure him applause amongst those
happy few, who were born to instruct, to please, and reform their
[Footnote A: N.B. As Mr. Theophilus Cibber is publishing (in a work
entirely undertaken by himself) The Lives, and Characters of all our
Eminent Actors, and Actresses, from Shakespear, to the present time;
he leaves to the other gentlemen, concerned in this collection, the
accounts of some players who could not be omitted herein, as Poets.]
[Footnote B: History of the English stage.]
[Footnote C: Dryden's All for Love.]
* * * * *
Dr. GEORGE SEWEL,
This ingenious gentleman was the eldest son of Mr. John Sewel,
treasurer, and chapter-clerk of the college of Windsor, in which
place our poet was born. He received his education at Eton school, was
afterwards sent to the university of Cambridge, and took the degree
of bachelor of physic at Peter-house College. He then passed over
to Leyden, and studied under the famous Boerhaave, and afterwards
returned to London, where for several years he practised as a
Physician. He had a strong propension for poetry, and has favoured
the world with many performances much applauded. In the year 1719 he
introduced upon the stage his tragedy of Sir Walter Raleigh, taken
from the historical account of that great man's fate. He was chiefly
concerned in writing the fifth volume of the Tatler, and the ninth
of the Spectator. He translated, with some other gentlemen, the
Metamorphoses of Ovid, with very great success, and rendered the Latin
poems of Mr. Addison into English. Dr. Sewel made an attempt, which he
had not leisure to execute, of translating Quillet's Callipedia, which
was afterwards done by Rowe. He is the author of several miscellanous
poems, of which the following is as accurate an account as we could
possibly obtain. On Conscience, Beauty, the Force of Music, Song of
Troilus, &c. dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle.
To his Grace the Duke of Marlborough, upon his going into Germany
1712. This poem begins thus,
Go, mighty prince, and those great nations see,
Which thy victorious arms made free;
View that fam'd column, where thy name's engrav'd,
Shall tell their children who their empire fav'd.
Point out that marble where thy worth is shewn
To every grateful country but thy own.
A Description of the Field of Battle, after Caesar was Conqueror at
Pharsalia, from the Seventh Book of Lucan.
Translations from Lucan, occasioned by the Tragedy of Cato.
The Fifth Elegy of the First Book of Tibullus, translated, and
addressed to Delia.
An Apology for Loving a Widow.
The Fifth Psalm Paraphrased.
A Poetical Epistle, written from Hampstead to Mr. Thornhill, upon Mr.
An Epistle to Mr. Addison on the Death of the Earl of Hallifax. This
poem begins thus,
And shall great Hallifax resign to fate,
And not one bard upon his ashes wait?
Or is with him all inspiration fled,
And lye the muses with their patron dead?
Convince us, Addison, his spirit reigns,
Breathing again in thy immortal strains:
To thee the list'ning world impartial bends,
Since Hallifax and envy now are friends.
Cupid's Proclamation, or a Defence of Women; a Poem from Chaucer.
Dr. Sewel, in his state principles, was inclined to the cause of
the Tories, and takes every occasion to combat with the bishop of
Salisbury, who had so eminently appeared in the cause of the Whigs.
The following is a list of his prose works, in which there are some
letters addressed to, and animadversions upon that eminent prelate's
The Clergy, and the Present Ministry defended; being a Letter to the
Bishop of Salisbury, occasioned by his Lordship's new Preface to his
Pastoral Case, 8vo. 1713, third Edition that year. In a fourth Edition
(same date) this is called Mr. Sewel's First Letter to the Bishop of
Salisbury, the Clergy, &c.
A Second Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, upon the Publication of
his new Volume of Sermons, wherein his Lordship's Preface concerning
the Revolution, and the Case of the Lord Russel are examined, &c. 8vo.
Remarks upon a Pamphlet entitled Observations upon the State of the
Nation 1712-13, third Edition; to which is added a Postscript to the
Vindicator of the Earl of Nottingham, 8vo. 1714.
An Introduction to the Life and Writings of G----t Lord Bishop of
S----m, &c. being a Third Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, 8vo.
A Vindication of the English Stage, exemplified in the Cato of Mr.
Addison. In a Letter to a Nobleman, 8vo. 1716.
Schism destructive of the Government, both in Church and State;
being a Defence of the Bill intitled An Act to prevent the Growth of
Schism; wherein all the Objections against it, and particularly those
in 'Squire Steele's Letter are fully Refuted. Humbly offered to the
Consideration of the House of Lords, 8vo. 1714, second Edition.
More News from Salisbury, viz. I. An Examination of some Parts of the
Bishop of Sarum's Sermon and Charge, &c. 8vo. 1714.
The Reasons for writing against the Bishop of Salisbury, 8vo. 1714.
The Life of Mr. John Philips, Author of the Poem on Cyder.
Dr. Sewel died at Hampstead in Middlesex, where, in the latter part
of his life, he had practised physic, on the 8th of February 1726,
and was buried there. He seems to have been a man of an amiable
disposition, and to have possessed a very considerable genius.
* * * * *
ANTHONY HAMMOND, Esq;
This gentleman was descended from a good family, of Somersham-Place,
in the county of Huntingdon, and was born in the year 1668[A]. When he
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