The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753)
Part 6 out of 6
Than morning light can spread my eastern skies.
The gath'ring air returns the doubling sound,
And long repeating thunders force it round:
Ecchoes return from caverns of the deep;
Old Chaos dreamt on't in eternal sleep,
Time helps it forward to its latest urn,
From whence it never, never shall return;
Nothing is heard so far, or lasts so long;
'Tis heard by ev'ry ear, and spoke by ev'ry tongue.
My hero, with the sails of honour furl'd,
Rises like the great genius of the world.
By fate, and fame, wisely prepared to be
The soul of war, and life of victory.
He spreads the wings of virtue on the throne,
And every wind of glory fans them on.
Immortal trophies dwell upon his brow,
Fresh as the garlands he has won but now.
What provocation De Foe had given to Pope we cannot determine, but
he has not escaped the lash of that gentleman's pen. Mr. Pope in his
second book of his Dunciad thus speaks of him;
Earless on high flood unabash'd De Foe,
And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge below.
It may be remarked that he has joined him with Tutchin, a man, whom
judge Jeffries had ordered to be so inhumanly whipt through the
market-towns, that, as we have already observed, he petitioned the
King to be hanged. This severity soured his temper, and after the
deposition and death of King James, he indulged his resentment in
insulting his memory. This may be the reason why Pope has stigmatized
him, and perhaps no better a one can be given for his attacking De
Foe, whom the author of the Notes to the Dunciad owns to have been a
man of parts. De Foe can never, with any propriety, be ranked amongst
the dunces; for whoever reads his works with candour and impartiality,
must be convinced that he was a man of the strongest natural powers, a
lively imagination, and solid judgment, which, joined with an unshaken
probity in his moral conduit, and an invincible integrity in his
political sphere, ought not only to screen him from the petulant
attacks of satire, but transmit his name with some degree of applause
De Foe, who enjoyed always a competence, and was seldom subject to the
necessities of the poets, died at his house at Islington, in the
year 1731. He left behind him one son and one daughter. The latter
is married to Mr. Henry Baker, a gentleman well known in the
[Footnote A: Jacob, vol. ii. p. 309.]
[Footnote B: See Preface to the True Born Englishman.]
[Footnote C: See Preface to vol. ii.]
* * * * *
Mrs. ELIZABETH ROWE,
This lady was born at Ilchester in Somersetshire September 11, 1674,
being the eldest of three daughters of Mr. Walter Singer, a gentleman
of good family, and Mrs. Elizabeth Portnel, both persons of great
worth and piety. Her father was not a native of Ilchester, nor an
inhabitant, before his imprisonment there for non-conformity in
the reign of King Charles II. Mrs. Portnel, from a principle of
tenderness, visited those who suffered on that account, and by this
accident an acquaintance Commenced, which terminated in the nuptial
union. They who were acquainted with the lady, who is the subject
of this article, in her early, years, perhaps observed an uncommon
display of genius as prophetic of that bright day which afterwards
There is so great a similitude between painting and poetry, that it is
no ways surprising, a person, who possessed the latter of these graces
in so high a degree, should very easily discover an inclination to the
former, which has often the same admirers. Accordingly we find Mrs.
Rowe discover a taste for painting; she attempted to carry her taste
into execution, when she had hardly steadiness of hand sufficient to
guide the pencil. Her father perceiving her fondness for this art, was
at the expence of a matter to instruct her in it; and she never failed
to make it an amusement 'till her death. Every one acquainted with her
writings, and capable of relishing the melifluent flow of her numbers,
will naturally suppose, that she had a genius for music, particularly
that of a grave and solemn kind, as it was best suited to the grandeur
of her sentiments, and the sublimity of her devotion. But her most
prevailing propension was to poetry. This superior grace was indeed
the most favourite employment of her youth, and in her the most
distinguished excellence. So powerful was her genius in this way, that
her prose hath all the charms of verse without the fetters; the same
fire and elevation; the same richness of imagery, bold figures, and
It appears by a life of Mrs. Rowe, prefixed to the first volume of
her miscellaneous works, that in the year 1696, the 22d of her age,
a Collection of her Poems on various Occasions was published at the
desire of two of her friends, which we suppose did not contain all she
had by her, since the ingenious author of the preface, Mrs. Elizabeth
Johnson, gives the reader room to hope, that Mrs. Rowe might, in a
little while, be prevailed upon to oblige the world with a second
part, no way inferior to the former.
Mrs. Rowe's Paraphrase on the 38th Chapter of Job was written at the
request of bishop Kenn, which gained her a great reputation. She
had no other tutor for the French and Italian languages, than the
honourable Mr. Thynne, son to the lord viscount Weymouth, and father
to the right honourable the countess of Hertford, who willingly took
the talk upon himself, and had the pleasure to see his fair scholar
improve so fast by his lessons, that in a few months she was able to
read Tasso's Jerusalem with ease. Her shining merit, with the charms
of her person and conversation, had procured her many admirers: among
others, the celebrated Mr. Prior made his addresses to her; so
that allowing for the double licence of the poet and the lover, the
concluding lines in his Answer to Mrs. Singer's Pastoral on Love and
Friendship, were not without foundation in truth; but Mr. Thomas Rowe,
a very ingenious and learned gentleman, was the person destined to
fill the arms of this amiable poetess.
As this gentleman was a poet of no inconsiderable rank, a man of
learning and genius, we shall here give some account of him, in place
of assigning him a particular Article, as the incidents of his life
will be more naturally blended with that of his wife.----He was born
at London, April the 25th, 1687, the eldest son of the revd. Mr. Rowe:
who with a very accurate judgment, and a considerable stock of useful
learning, joined the talents in preaching and a most lively and
engaging manner in conversation. He was of a genteel descent, both
on his father's and mother's side; but he thought too justly to value
himself on such extrinsic circumstances. His superior genius, and
insatiable thirst after knowledge were conspicuous in his earliest
years. He commenced his acquaintance with the Classics at Epsom, while
his father resided there, and by the swift advances in this part of
learning, quickly became the delight of his master, who treated him
with very particular indulgence, in spight of the natural ruggedness
and severity of his temper.
When his father removed to London, he accompanied him, and was placed
under the famous Dr. Walker, master of the Charter-House-School. His
exercises here never failed of being distinguished even among those
who had the approbation of that excellent master, who would fain have
persuaded his father to place him at one of our English universities;
but how honourably soever Mr. Rowe might think of the learning of
those noble feats of the Muses, yet not having the same advantageous
notions of their political principles, he chose to enter him in a
private academy in London, and some time before his death sent him to
Leyden: Here he studied Jeuriel's Antiquities, civil law, the Belles
Lettres, and experimental philosophy; and established a reputation
for capacity, application, and an obliging deportment, both among
the professors and students. He returned from that celebrated seat of
literature, with a great accession of knowledge, entirely incorrupt in
his morals, which he had preferred as inviolate, as he could have done
under the most vigilant eye, though left without any restraints but
those of his own virtue and prudence.
The love of liberty had always been one of Mr. Rowe's darling
passions. He was very much confirmed therein, by his familiar
acquaintance with the history and noble authors of Greece and Rome,
whose very spirit was transferred into him: By residing so long at
a Republic, he had continual examples of the inestimable value of
freedom, as the parent of industry, and the universal source of social
happiness. Tyranny of every kind he sincerely detested; but most of
all ecclesiastical tyranny, deeming the slavery of the mind the most
abject and ignominious, and in its consequences more pernicious than
He was a perfect matter of the Greek, Latin and French languages; and,
which is seldom known to happen, had at once such a prodigious memory,
and unexhaustible fund of wit, as would have singly been admired, and
much more united. These qualities, with an easy fluency of speech, a
frankness, and benevolence of disposition, and a communicative temper,
made his company much sollicited by all who knew him. He animated the
conversation, and instructed his companions by the acuteness of his
He had formed a design to compile the lives of all the illustrious
persons of antiquity, omitted by Plutarch; and for this purpose
read the antient historians with great care. This design he in part
executed. Eight lives were published since his decease, in octavo, by
way of Supplement to that admired Biographer; in which though so young
a guide, he strikes out a way like one well acquainted with the dark
and intricate paths of antiquity. The stile is perfectly easy, yet
concise, and nervous: The reflections just, and such as might be
expected from a lover of truth and of mankind.
Besides these Lives, he had finished for the press, the Life of
Thrasybulus, which being put into the hands of Sir Richard Steele, for
his revisal, was unhappily lost, and could never since be recovered.
The famous Mr. Dacier, having translated Plutarch's Lives into French,
with Remarks Historical and Critical, the Abbe Bellenger added in 1734
a ninth tome to the other eight, consisting of the Life of Hannibal,
and Mr. Rowe's Lives made French by that learned Abbe: In the Preface
to which version, he transcribes from, the Preface to the English
edition, the character of the author with visible approbation; and
observes, that the Lives were written with taste; though being a
posthumous work, the author had not put his last hand to it.
Such is the character of Mr. Rowe, the husband of this amiable lady;
and when so accomplished a pair meet in conjugal bonds, what great
expectations may not be formed upon them! A friend of Mr. Rowe's upon
that occasion wrote the following beautiful Epigram,
No more proud Gallia, bid the world revere
Thy learned pair, Le Fevre and Dacier:
Britain may boast, this happy day unites,
Two nobler minds, in Hymen's sacred rites.
What these have sung, while all th' inspiring nine,
Exalt the beauties of the verse divine,
Those (humble critics of th' immortal strain,)
Shall bound their fame to comment and explain.
Mr. Rowe being at Bath, in the year 1709, was introduced into the
company of Miss Singer, who lived in a retirement not far from the
city. The idea he had conceived of her from report and her writings,
charmed him; but when he had seen and conversed with her, he felt
another kind of impression, and the esteem of her accomplishments was
heightened into the rapture of a lover. During the courtship, he wrote
a poetical Epistle to a friend, who was a neighbour of Mrs. Singer,
and acquainted with the family, in which were the following lines.
Youth's liveliest bloom, a never-fading grace,
And more than beauty sparkles in her face.
How soon the willing heart, her empire feels?
Each look, each air, each melting action kills:
Yet the bright form creates no loose desires;
At once she gives and purifies our fires,
And passions chaste, as her own soul inspires.
Her soul, heav'n's noblest workmanship design'd,
To bless the ruined age, and succour lost mankind,
To prop abandon'd virtue's sinking cause,
And snatch from vice its undeserv'd applause.
He married her in the year 1710, and Mrs. Rowe's exalted merit, and
amiable qualities, could not fail to inspire the most generous and
lading passion. Mr. Rowe knew how to value that treasure of wit,
softness and virtue, with which heaven had blessed him; and made it
his study to repay the felicity with which she crowned his life. The
esteem and tenderness he had for her is inexpressible, and possession
seems never to have abated the fondness and admiration of the lover;
a circumstance which seldom happens, but to those who are capable
of enjoying mental intercourse, and have a relish for the ideal
transports, as well as those of a less elevated nature. It was some
considerable time after his marriage, that he wrote to her a very
tender Ode, under the name of Delia, full of the warmed sentiments
of connubial friendship and affection. The following lines in it may
appear remarkable, as it pleased Heaven to dispose events, in a manner
so agreeable to the wishes expressed in them,
----So long may thy inspiring page,
And bright example bless the rising age;
Long in thy charming prison mayst thou stay,
Late, very late, ascend the well-known way,
And add new glories to the realms of day!
At least Heav'n will not sure, this prayer deny!
Short be my life's uncertain date,
And earlier long than thine, the destin'd hour of fate!
When e'er it comes, may'st thou be by,
Support my sinking frame, and teach me how to die;
Banish desponding nature's gloom,
Make me to hope a gentle doom,
And fix me all on joys to come.
With swimming eyes I'll gaze upon thy charms,
And clasp thee dying in my fainting arms;
Then gently leaning on thy breast;
Sink in soft slumbers to eternal rest.
The ghastly form shall have a pleasing air,
And all things smile, while Heav'n and thou art there.
This part of the Ode which we have quoted, contains the most tender
breathings of affection, and has as much delicacy and softness in
it, as we remember ever to have seen in poetry. As Mr. Rowe had not a
robust constitution, so an intense application to study, beyond what
the delicacy of his frame could bear, might contribute to that ill
state of health which allayed the happiness of his married life,
during the greater part of it. In the latter end of the year 1714, his
weakness increased, and he seemed to labour under all the symptoms of
a consumption; which distemper, after it had confined him some months,
put a period to his most valuable life, at Hampstead, in 1715, when
he was but in the 28th year of his age. The exquisite grief and
affliction, which his amiable wife felt for the loss of so excellent a
husband, is not to be expressed.
She wrote a beautiful Elegy on his death, and continued to the last
moments of her life, to express the highest veneration and affection
for his memory, and a particular regard and esteem for his relations.
This Elegy of Mrs. Rowe, on the death of her much lamented husband, we
shall here insert.
An ELEGY, &c.
In what soft language shall my thoughts get free,
My dear Alexis, when I talk of thee?
Ye Muses, Graces, all ye gentle train,
Of weeping loves, O suit the pensive train!
But why should I implore your moving art?
'Tis but to speak the dictates of my heart;
And all that knew the charming youth will join,
Their friendly sighs, and pious tears to mine;
For all that knew his merit, must confess,
In grief for him, there can be no excess.
His soul was form'd to act each glorious part
Of life, unstained with vanity, or art,
No thought within his gen'rous mind had birth,
But what he might have own'd to Heav'n and Earth.
Practis'd by him, each virtue grew more bright,
And shone with more than its own native light.
Whatever noble warmth could recommend
The just, the active, and the constant friend,
Was all his own----But Oh! a dearer name,
And softer ties my endless sorrow claim.
Lost in despair, distracted, and forlorn,
The lover I, and tender husband mourn.
Whate'er to such superior worth was due,
Whate'er excess the fondest passion knew;
I felt for thee, dear youth; my joy, my care,
My pray'rs themselves were thine, and only where
Thou waft concern'd, my virtue was sincere.
When e'er I begg'd for blessings on thy head,
Nothing was cold or formal that I said;
My warmest vows to Heav'n were made for thee,
And love still mingled with my piety.
O thou wast all my glory, all my pride!
Thro' life's uncertain paths my constant guide;
Regardless of the world, to gain thy praise
Was all that could my just ambition raise.
Why has my heart this fond engagement known?
Or why has Heav'n dissolved the tye so soon?
Why was the charming youth so form'd to move?
Or why was all my soul so turn'd for love?
But virtue here a vain defence had made,
Where so much worth and eloquence could plead.
For he could talk----'Twas extacy to hear,
'Twas joy! 'twas harmony to every ear.
Eternal music dwelt upon his tongue,
Soft, and transporting as the Muses song;
List'ning to him my cares were charm'd to rest,
And love, and silent rapture fill'd my breast:
Unheeded the gay moments took their flight,
And time was only measur'd by delight.
I hear the lov'd, the melting accents still,
And still the kind, the tender transport feel.
Again I see the sprightly passions rise,
And life and pleasure sparkle in his eyes.
My fancy paints him now with ev'ry grace,
But ah! the dear delusion mocks my fond embrace;
The smiling vision takes its hasty flight,
And scenes of horror swim before my sight.
Grief and despair in all their terrors rise;
A dying lover pale and gasping lies,
Each dismal circumstance appears in view,
The fatal object is for ever new.
* * * * *
For thee all thoughts of pleasure I forego,
For thee my tears shall never cease to flow:
For thee at once I from the world retire,
To feed in silent shades a hopeless fire.
My bosom all thy image shall retain;
The full impression there shall still remain.
As thou hast taught my constant heart to prove;
The noblest height and elegance of love;
That sacred passion I to thee confine;
My spotless faith shall be for ever thine.
After Mr. Rowe's decease, and as soon as her affairs would permit,
our authoress indulged her inconquerable inclination to solitude, by
retiring to Froome in Somersetshire, in the neighbourhood of which
place the greatest part of her estate lay. When she forsook the town,
she determined to return no more but to spend the remainder of her
life in absolute retirement; yet upon some few occasions she thought
it her duty to violate this resolution. In compliance with the
importunate request of the honourable Mrs. Thynne, she passed some
months with her at London, after the death of her daughter the lady
Brooke, and upon the decease of Mrs. Thynne herself, she could not
dispute the commands of the countess of Hertford, who earnestly
desired her company, to soften the severe affliction of the loss of so
excellent a mother, and once or twice more, the power which this lady
had over Mrs. Rowe, drew her, with an obliging kind of violence,
to spend a few months with her in the country. Yet, even on these
occasions she never quitted her retreat without sincere regret, and
always returned to it, as soon as she could with decency disengage
herself from the importunity of her noble friends. It was in this
recess that she composed the most celebrated of her works, in twenty
Letters from the Dead to the Living; the design of which is to impress
the notion of the soul's immortality, without which all virtue and
religion, with their temporal and eternal good conferences must fall
to the ground.
* * * * *
Some who pretend to have no scruples about the being of a God, have
yet doubts about their own eternal existence, though many authors have
established it, both by christian and moral proofs, beyond reasonable
contradiction. But since no means should be left untried, in a point
of such awful importance, a virtuous endeavour to make the mind
familiar with the thoughts of immortality, and contract as it were
unawares, an habitual persuasion of it, by writings built on that
foundation, and addressed to the affections, and imagination, cannot
be thought improper, either as a doctrine or amusement: Amusement, for
which the world makes so large a demand, and which generally speaking
is nothing but an art of forgetting that immortality, the form,
belief, and advantageous contemplation, of which this higher amusement
In the year 1736, the importunity of some of Mrs. Rowe's acquaintance
who had seen the History of Joseph in MS. prevailed on her to print
it. The publication of this piece did not long precede the time of her
death, to prepare for which had been the great business of her life;
and it stole upon her according to her earnest wishes, in her
beloved recess. She was favoured with a very uncommon strength of
constitution, and had pass'd a long series of years with scarce any
indisposition, severe enough to confine her to bed.----But about half
a year before her decease, she was attacked with a distemper, which
seemed to herself as well as others, attended with danger. Tho' this
disorder found her mind not quite so serene and prepared to meet death
as usual; yet when by devout contemplation, she had fortified herself
against that fear and diffidence, from which the most exalted piety
does not always secure us in such an awful hour, she experienced such
divine satisfaction and transport, that she said with tears of joy,
she knew not that she ever felt the like in all her life, and she
repeated on this occasion Pope's beautiful soliloquy of the dying
Christian to his soul.
An ELEGY, &c.
The dying CHRISTIAN to his Soul.
Vital spark of heav'nly flame!
Quit, oh quit this mortal frame;
Trembling, hoping, lingr'ing, flying;
Oh the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.
Hark! they whisper; Angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite,
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
The world recedes; it disappears!
Heav'n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring;
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O grave! where is thy victory?
O death! where is thy sting?
She repeated the above, with an air of intense pleasure. She felt all
the elevated sentiments of pious extasy and triumph, which breath in
that exquisite piece of sacred poetry. After this threatening illness
she recovered her usual good state of health; and though at the time
of her decease she was pretty far advanced in years, yet her exact
temperance, and the calmness of her mind, undisturbed with uneasy
cares, and turbulent passions, encouraged her friends to hope a much
longer enjoyment of so valuable a life, than it pleased heaven to
allow them. On the day when she was seized with that distemper, which
in a few hours proved mortal, she seemed to those about her to be
in perfect health and vigour. In the evening about eight o'clock
she converted with a friend, with her usual vivacity, mixed with an
extraordinary chearfulness, and then retired to her chamber. About 10
her servant hearing some noise in her mistress's room, ran instantly
into it, and found her fallen off the chair on the floor, speechless,
and in the agonies of death. She had the immediate assistance of a
physician and surgeon, but all the means used were without success,
and having given one groan she expired a few minutes before two
o'clock, on Sunday morning, February the 20th, 1736-7: Her disease was
judged to be an apoplexy. A pious book was found lying open by her, as
also some loose papers, on which she had written the following devout
O guide, and council, and protect my soul from sin!
O speak! and let me know thy heav'nly will.
Speak evidently to my list'ning soul!
O fill my soul with love, and light of peace,
And whisper heav'nly comfort to my soul!
O speak celestial spirit in the strain
Of love, and heav'nly pleasure to my soul.
In her cabinet were found letters to several of her friends, which she
had ordered to be delivered to the persons to whom they were directed
immediately after her decease.
* * * * *
Mrs. Rowe lived in friendship with people of the first fashion and
distinction in life, by whom she was esteemed and respected. To
enumerate them would be needless; let it suffice to remark, that her
life was honoured with the intimacy, and her death lamented with the
tears, of the countess of Hertford. Many verses were published to
celebrate her memory, amongst which a copy written by Mrs. Elizabeth
Carter are the best.
* * * * *
Thus lived honoured, and died lamented, this excellent poetess, whose
beauty, though not her highest excellence, yet greatly contributed to
set off her other more important graces to advantage; and whose piety
will ever shine as a bright example to posterity, and teach them how
to heighten the natural gifts of understanding, by true and unaffected
devotion.----The conduct and behaviour of Mrs. Rowe might put some
of the present race of females to the blush, who rake the town for
infamous adventures to amuse the public. Their works will soon be
forgotten, and their memories when dead, will not be deemed exceeding
precious; but the works of Mrs. Rowe can never perish, while exalted
piety and genuine goodness have any existence in the world. Her memory
will be ever honoured, and her name dear to latest posterity.
* * * * *
Mrs. Rowe's Miscellaneous Works were published a few years ago at
London, in octavo, and her Devotions were revised and published by the
reverend Dr. Watts, under the title of Devout Exercises, to which
that worthy man wrote a preface; and while he removes some cavils that
wantonness and sensuality might make to the stile and manner of these
Devotions, he shews that they contain the most sublime sentiments,
the most refined breathings of the soul, and the most elevated and
* * * * *
Mrs. Rowe's acquaintance with persons of fashion had taught her all
the accomplishments of good-breeding, and elegance of behaviour, and
without formality or affectation she practised in the most distant
solitude, all the address and politeness of a court.
She had the happiest command over her passions, and maintained a
constant calmness of temper, and sweetness of disposition, that could
not be ruffled by adverse accidents. She was in the utmost degree
an enemy to ill-natured satire and detraction; she was as much
unacquainted with envy, as if it had been impossible for so base
a passion to enter into the human mind. She had few equals in
conversation; her wit was lively, and she expressed her thoughts in
the most beautiful and flowing eloquence.
When she entered into the married state, the highest esteem and most
tender affection appeared in her conduct to Mr. Rowe, and by the most
gentle and obliging manner, and the exercise of every social and
good natured virtue, she confirmed the empire she had gained over
his heart. In short, if the most cultivated understanding, if an
imagination lively and extensive, a character perfectly moral, and a
soul formed for the most exalted exercises of devotion, can render a
person amiable, Mrs. Rowe has a just claim to that epithet, as well as
to the admiration of the lovers of poetry and elegant composition.
* * * * *
The Revd. Dr. THOMAS YALDEN.
This Gentleman was born in the city of Exeter, and the youngest of
six sons of Mr. John Yalden of Sussex. He received his education at
a Grammar-school, belonging to Magdalen-College in Oxford. [A]In the
year 1690 he was admitted a commoner of Magdalen-Hall, under Mr. John
Fallen, who was esteemed an excellent tutor, and a very great
master of logic, and the following year he was chosen scholar of
Magdalen-College. Here he became a fellow-pupil with the celebrated
Mr. Addison and Dr. Henry Sacheverel, and early contracted a
particular friendship with those two gentlemen. This academical
affection Mr. Addison preserved not only abroad in his travels, but
also on his advancement to considerable employments at home, and kept
the same easy and free correspondence to the very last, as when their
fortunes were more on a level. This preservation of affection is
rendered more singular, by Mr. Yalden's having espoused a very
opposite interest to that of Mr. Addison, for he adhered to the
High-Church party, and was suspected of an attachment to an exiled
family, for which he afterwards was brought into very great trouble.
In the year 1700 he was admitted actual and perpetual fellow of
Magdalen-College, and qualified himself the next year, by taking
orders, as the founder's statutes require. After his admission he
received two public marks of favour from that society: The first was
a presentation to a living in Warwickshire, consistent with his
fellowship; and the other, his being elected moral philosophy-reader,
an office for life, endowed with a handsome stipend and peculiar
* * * * *
In 1706 he was received into the family of his noble and kind patron
the duke of Beaufort; with whom he was in very great favour, having in
many instances experienced his bounty and generosity. In the following
year he compleated his academical degrees, by commencing doctor in
divinity: He presented to the society their founder's picture in
full length, which now hangs up in the public-hall; and afterwards
he delivered in to the president a voluntary resignation of his
fellowship, and moral philosophy-lecture. He was afterwards preferred
to be rector of Chalten in Cleanville, two adjoining towns and
rectories in Hampshire. He was elected by the president and governors
of Bridewell, preacher of that hospital, upon the resignation of Dr.
Atterbury, afterwards lord bishop of Rochester.
* * * * *
Having mentioned this prelate, it will be proper here to observe, that
upon a suspicion of Dr. Yalden's being concerned with him in a plot
to restore the exiled family; and for which the bishop was afterwards
banished, he was seized upon by authority, and committed to prison.
When he was examined before the council, concerning his correspondence
and intimacy with Mr. Kelley the bishop's secretary; he did not deny
his knowledge of, and correspondence with, him, but still persisted
in averting, that no measures contrary to the constitution were ever
canvassed between them. There was found in his pocket book, a copy of
verses reflecting on the reigning family, and which might well bear
the construction of a libel; but when he was charged with them, he
denied that he ever composed such verses, or that the hand-writing was
his own, and asserted his innocence in every circumstance relating to
the plot. The verses in all probability were put into his pocket-book,
by the same person, who with so much dexterity placed a treasonable
paper in bishop Atterbury's close-stool, and then pretending to be the
discoverer of it, preferred it against his lordship, as an evidence of
his disaffection. The particulars of that memorable tryal are recorded
in the Life of Atterbury, written by the authors of Biographia
Britannica.--The heats raised by Atterbury's tryal subsiding, those
who were suspected of being concerned with him, as no evidence
appeared strong enough to convict them, were released.
Dr. Yalden was still favoured with the patronage of the generous duke
of Beaufort, and his residence in that noble family recommended him
to the acquaintance of many of the first quality and character in the
kingdom, and as he was of a chearful temper, and of a pleasing and
instructive conversation, he retained their friendship and esteem till
his death, which happened the 16th of July, 1736, in the 66th year of
His poetical works are chiefly these.
On the Conquest of Namure; A Pindaric Ode, inscribed to his most
sacred and victorious majesty, folio 1695.
The Temple of Fame; a Poem to the memory of the most illustrious
Prince, William Duke of Gloucester, folio 1700. On the late Queen's
Accession to the Throne, a Poem.
AEsop at Court, or State Fables.
An Essay on the Character on Sir Willoughby Ashton, a Poem. Fol. 1704.
On the Mines of Sir Carbery Price, a Poem; occasioned by the
On the Death of Mr. John Partridge, Professor in Leather, and
Advice to a Lover.
To Mr. Watson, on his Ephemeris on the Caelestial Motions, presented to
Against Immoderate Grief.
The Force of Jealousy.
An Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, 1693, set to music by Dr. Purcel.
A Hymn to the Morning in Praise of Light.
* * * * *
We shall extract the following stanza from this Hymn, as a specimen of
Parent of day! whose beauteous beams of light
Spring from the darksome womb of night,
And midst their native horrors mow
Like gems adorning of the negro's brow.
Not Heaven's fair bow can equal thee,
In all its gawdy drapery:
Thou first essay of light, and pledge of day!
Rival of shade! eternal spring! still gay!
From thy bright unexhausted womb
The beauteous race of days and seasons come.
Thy beauty ages cannot wrong,
But 'spite of time, thou'rt ever young.
Thou art alone Heav'n's modest virgin light.
Whose face a veil of blushes hide from human sight.
At thy approach, nature erects her head;
The smiling universe is glad;
The drowsy earth and seas awake
And from thy beams new life and vigour take.
When thy more chearful rays appear,
Ev'n guilt and women cease to fear;
Horror, despair, and all the sons of night
Retire before thy beams, and take their hasty flight.
Thou risest in the fragrant east,
Like the fair Phoenix from her balmy nest;
But yet thy fading glories soon decay,
Thine's but a momentary stay;
Too soon thou'rt ravish'd from our fight,
Borne down the stream of day, and overwhelm'd with night.
Thy beams to thy own ruin haste,
They're fram'd too exquisite to last:
Thine is a glorious, but a short-liv'd state:
Pity so fair a birth should yield so soon to fate;
Besides these pieces, this reverend gentleman has translated the
second book of Ovid's Art of Love, with several other occasional poems
and translations published in the third and fourth volumes of Tonson's
The Medicine, a Tale in the second Volume of the Tatlers, and Mr.
Partridge's Appeal to the Learned World, or a Further Account of the
Manner of his Death, in Prose, are likewise written by him.
[Footnote A: Jacob.]
* * * * *
Mr. JOSEPH MITCHEL,
This gentleman was the son of a Stone-cutter in Scotland, and was
born about the year 1684. He received an university education while
he remained in that kingdom, and having some views of improving his
fortune, repaired to the metropolis. We are not able to recover many
particulars concerning this poet, who was never sufficiently eminent
to excite much curiosity concerning him. By a dissipated imprudent
behaviour he rendered those, who were more intimately acquainted with
him, less sollicitous to preserve the circumstances of his life, which
were so little to his advantage. We find him enjoying the favour of
the earl of Stair, and Sir Robert Walpole, to whom he addresses some
of his poems. He received so many obligations from the latter, and was
so warm in his interest, that he obtained the epithet of Sir Robert
Walpole's Poet, and for a great part of his life had an entire
dependence on the bounty of that munificent statesman. Mr. Mitchel,
who was a slave to his pleasures, and governed by every gust of
irregular appetite, had many opportunities of experiencing the
dangerous folly of extravagance, and the many uneasy moments which it
occasions. Notwithstanding this, his conduct was never corrected,
even when the means of doing it were in his power. At a time when Mr.
Mitchel laboured under severe necessities, by the death of his wife's
uncle several thousand pounds devolved to him, of which he had no
sooner got possession, than he planned schemes of spending it, in
place of discharging the many debts he had contracted. This behaviour,
as it conveyed to his creditors no high idea of his honesty, so it
obliged him to be perpetually skulking, and must consequently have
embittered even those hours which he falsly dedidicated to pleasure;
for they who live under a perpetual dread of losing their liberty, can
enjoy no great comfort even in their most careless moments.
Of the many poems which Mr. Mitchel wrote, but few succeeded to any
degree, nor indeed much deserved it. At a time when the politicians
were engaged in settling the Land-Tax, and various opinions were
offered concerning the ability of that branch of the commonwealth,
so that a proper medium or standard might be fixed; he versified
the Totness Address, much about the time of his present Majesty's
accession to the throne; in which it is humourously proposed, that the
landed interest should pay twenty shillings in the pound. This poem
having a reference to a fashionable topic of conversation, was better
received than most of his other pieces.
There was likewise a poem of Mr. Mitchel's, called The Shoe-heel,
which was much read on account of the low humour it contains. He has
addressed to Dr. Watts a poem on the subject of Jonah in the Whale's
Belly. In the dedication he observes, 'That it was written for the
advancement of true virtue and reformation of manners; to raise an
emulation amongst our young poets to attempt divine composures, and
help to wipe off the censures which the numerous labours of the muses
are justly charged with. If (says he) it shall serve any of these
purposes, I shall be satisfied, though I gain no reputation by it
among those who read a new poem with no other view, than to pass a
judgment on the abilities of the author.' When the antagonists of Pope
were threatened with the publication of the Dunciad, Mr. Mitchel had
some suspicion that he himself was to be stigmatized in it: conscious
that he had never offended Mr. Pope, he took an opportunity to write
to him upon that subject. He informed him, that he had been an admirer
of his writings; that he declined all connexion with those men, who
combined to reduce his reputation, and that when no offence was given,
no resentment should be discovered. Mr. Pope, upon receiving this
letter from Mitchel, protesting his innocence as to any calumny
published against him, was so equitable as to strike him out of his
Dunciad, in which, by misrepresentation he had assigned him a place.
* * * * *
Mr. Mitchel lived in good correspondence with many of the most eminent
wits of the time, and was particularly honoured with the friendship of
Aaron Hill, esq; a gentleman of so amiable a disposition, that whoever
cultivated an intimacy with him, was sure to be a gainer. Once,
when Mr. Mitchel was in distress, Mr. Hill, who could not perhaps
conveniently relieve him by pecuniary assistance, gave him a higher
instance of friendship, than could be shewn by money. He wrote a
beautiful dramatic piece in two acts, called The Fatal Extravagant, in
which he exposed the hideous vice of gaming. This little dramatic
work is planned with such exquisite art, wrought up with so much
tenderness, and the scenes are so natural, interesting and moving,
that I know not if Mr. Hill has any where touched the passions with
so great a mastery. This play met the success it deserved, and
contributed to relieve Mr. Mitchel's necessities, who had honour
enough, however, to undeceive the world, and acknowledge his
obligations to Mr. Hill, by making mankind acquainted with the real
author of The Fatal Extravagant. As this was a favour never to be
forgotten, so we find Mr. Mitchel taking every proper occasion to
express his gratitude, and celebrate his patron. Amongst the first of
his poems, is An Ode, addressed to Mr. Hill, which is one of the best
of his compositions. The two last stanza's are as follow,
Heedless of custom, and the vulgar breath,
I toil for glory in a path untrod,
Or where but few have dared to combat death,
And few unstaggering carry virtue's load.
Thy muse, O Hill, of living names,
My first respect, and chief attendance claims.
Sublimely fir'd, thou look'st disdainful down
On trifling subjects, and a vile renown.
In ev'ry verse, in ev'ry thought of thine,
There's heav'nly rapture and design.
Who can thy god-like Gideon view[A],
And not thy muse pursue,
Or wish, at least, such miracles to do?
Sure in thy breast the ancient Hebrew fire
Reviv'd, glows hot, and blazes forth,
How strong, how fierce the flames aspire!
Of thy interior worth,
When burning worlds thou sett'st before our eyes[B],
And draw'st tremendous judgment from the flues!
O bear me on thy seraph wing,
And teach my weak obsequious muse to sing.
To thee I owe the little art I boast;
Thy heat first melted my co-genial frost.
Preserve the sparks thy breath did fan,
And by thy likeness form me into true poetic man.
Mr. Mitchel died in the year 1738. He seems to have been a poet of the
third rate; he has seldom reached the sublime; his humour, in which he
more succeeded, is not strong enough to last; his verification holds a
state of mediocrity; he possessed but little invention, and if he was
not a bad rhimester, he cannot be denominated a fine poet, for there
are but few marks of genius in his writings. His poems were printed in
two vol. 8vo. in the year 1729.
He wrote also, The Union of the Clans; or the Highland-Fair. A Scot's
Opera. 'Twas acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, about the year
1730; but did not succeed.
[Footnote A: An epic poem by Aaron Hill, esq;]
[Footnote B: See The Judgment, a poem by Aaron Hill, esq;]
* * * * *
Mr. John Ozell,
This gentleman added considerably to the republic of letters by his
numerous translations. He received the rudiments of his education from
Mr. Shaw, an excellent grammarian, master of the free school at Ashby
De la Zouch in Leicestershire: he finished his grammatical learning
under the revd. Mr. Mountford of Christ's Hospital, where having
attained the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew tongues, he was designed to be
sent to the university of Cambridge, to be trained up for holy Orders.
But Mr. Ozell, who was averse to that confinement which he must expect
in a college life, chose to be sooner settled in the world, and be
placed in a public office of accounts, having previously qualified
himself by attaining a knowledge of arithmetic, and writing the
necessary hands. This choice of an occupation in our author, could no
other reasons be adduced, are sufficient to denominate him a little
tinctured with dulness, for no man of genius ever yet made choice of
spending his life behind a desk in a compting-house.
He still retained, however, an inclination to erudition, contrary
to what might have been expected, and by much conversation with
travellers from abroad, made himself matter of most of the living
languages, especially the French, Italian, and Spanish, from all
which, as well as from the Latin and Greek, he has favoured the world
with a great[A] many translations, amongst which are the following
1. Britannicus and Alexander the Great, Two Tragedies from Racine.
2. The Litigant, a Comedy of 3 Acts; Mandated from the French of M.
Racine, who took it from the Wasps of Aristophanes, 8vo. 1715. Scene
in a city of Lower Normandy.
3. Manlius Capitolinus, a Tragedy from the French of M. La Fosse,
1715. When the earl of Portland was ambassador at the French court,
this play was acted at Paris threescore nights running; the subject is
related by Livy. This French author studied some time at Oxford, and,
upon his return home, applied himself to dramatic poetry, in which he
acquired great reputation. He died about the year 1713.
4. The Cid, a Tragedy from Corneille.
5. Cato of Utica, a Tragedy from M. Des Champs; acted at the Theatre
in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields 1716, dedicated to Count Volkra his Excellency
the Imperial Ambassador: to which is added a Parallel between this
Play and Mr. Addison's Cato.
Besides these, Mr. Ozell has translated all Moliere's plays, which are
printed in 6 vol. 12mo. and likewise a collection of some of the best
Spanish and Italian plays, from Calderon, Aretin, Ricci, and Lopez de
Vega. Whether any of these plays, translated from the Spanish, were
ever printed, we cannot be positive. Mr. Ozell's translation of
Moliere is far from being excellent, for Moliere was an author to
whom none, but a genius like himself, could well do justice. His other
The History of Don Quixote, translated by several hands, published by
Peter Motteux; revised and compared with the best edition, printed at
Madrid, by Mr. Ozell, 5th edition, 1725.
Reflexions on Learning, by M. de Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, made
English from the Paris Edition 12mo. 1718.
Common Prayer not Common Sense, in several Places of the Portugueze,
Spanish, Italian, French, Latin, and Greek Translations of the English
Liturgy; Being a Specimen of the Manifold Omissions, &c. in all, or
most of the said Translations, some of which were printed at Oxford,
and the rest at Cambridge, or London, 1722.
Vertot's Revolutions of Rome, translated by Mr. Ozell.
Logic, or the Art of Thinking; from the French of M. Nicole, 1723.
Mr. Ozell finished a Translation from the Portugueze, begun by Dr.
Geddes, of the most celebrated, popish, ecclesiastical Romance; being
the Life of Veronica of Milan, a book certified by the heads of
the university of Conimbra in Portugal, to be revised by the Angels,
and approved of by God.
* * * * *
These are the works of Mr. Ozell, who, if he did not possess any
genius, has not yet lived in, vain, for he has rendered into English
some very useful pieces, and if his translations are not elegant; they
are generally pretty just, and true to their original.
Mr. Ozell is severely touched by Mr. Pope in the first book of the
Dunciad, on what account we cannot determine; perhaps that satyrist
has only introduced him to grace the train of his Dunces. Ozell was
incensed to the last degree by this usage, and in a paper called The
Weekly Medley, September 1729, he published the following strange
Advertisement[B]. 'As to my learning, this envious wretch knew, and
every body knows, that the whole bench of bishops, not long ago, were
pleased to give me a purse of guineas for discovering the erroneous
translations of the Common Prayer in Portugueze, Spanish, French,
Italian, &c. As for my genius, let Mr. Cleland shew better verses in
all Pope's works, than Ozell's version of Boileau's Lutrin, which the
late lord Hallifax was so well pleased with, that he complimented
him with leave to dedicate it to him, &c. &c. Let him shew better
and truer poetry in The Rape of the Lock, than in Ozell's Rape of the
Bucket, which, because an ingenious author happened to mention in the
same breath with Pope's, viz.
'Let Ozell sing the Bucket, Pope the Lock,
'the little gentleman had like to have run mad; and Mr. Toland and Mr.
Gildon publicly declared Ozell's Translation of Homer to be, as it was
prior, so likewise superior, to Pope's.----Surely, surely, every man
is free to deserve well of his country!'
This author died about the middle of October 1743, and was buried in
a vault of a church belonging to St. Mary Aldermanbury. He never
experienced any of the vicissitudes of fortune, which have been so
frequently the portion of his inspired brethren, for a person born in
the same county with him, and who owed particular obligations to his
family, left him a competent provision: besides, he had always enjoyed
good places. He was for some years auditor-general of the city and
Bridge accounts, and, to the time of his decease, auditor of the
accounts of St. Paul's Cathedral, and St. Thomas's Hospital. Though,
in reality, Ozell was a man of very little genius, yet Mr. Coxeter
asserts, that his conversation was surprizingly pleasing, and that he
had a pretty good knowledge of men and things. He possibly possessed
a large share of good nature, which, when joined with but a tolerable
understanding, will render the person, who is blessed with it, more
amiable, than the most flashy wit, and the highest genius without it.
[Footnote A: Jacob.]
[Footnote B: Notes on the Dunciad.]
End of the Fourth Volume.
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