Page images

of writing with great success; and about this time shewed his knowledge of human nature by an Essay on the Pleasure of being deceived". In 1702 he published, on the death of king William, a Pindarick ode called The House of Nassau?, and

wrote another paraphrase on the Otium Divos of Horace 3. 6 In 1703 his Ode on Musick + was performed at Stationers' Hall ;

and he wrote afterwards six cantatas, which were set to musick by the greatest masters of that time, and seem intended to oppose or exclude the Italian opera", an exotick and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated and always

has prevailed? 7 His reputation was now so far advanced that the publick

began to pay reverence to his name, and he was solicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy 8 ; but who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced by

such powerful recommendation. 8 He translated Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead, and his

version was perhaps read at that time, but is now neglected ; for by a book not necessary, and owing its reputation wholly to its turn of diction, little notice can be gained but from those who can enjoy the graces of the original. To the dialogues of Fontenelle he added two composed by himself ; and, though not only an honest but a pious man, dedicated his work to the earl of

* Poems on Several Occasions with Henry Purcell was dead before this. Some Select Essays in Prose, 1735, For a critical letter on music by i. 256. [At the end of the Essay the Hughes see Montgomery's Steele, i. date, 1701, is given. Ib. p. 264.] 304.

? Ib. p. 37. For Pindarick Odes 6 Mr. Hughes had no such insee ante, COWLEY, 124.

tention.' HAWKINS, Johnson's Works, 3 HORACE, Odes, ii. 16; Eng. 1787, iii. 114. Poets, xxxi. 103.

Ante, ADDISON, 27; post, GAY, Ib. p. 142. 'It was the custom of 18, 20. See also Appendix Z. this time for almost every rhymer to According to Hughes, being try his hand in an Ode on St. Cecilia; threatened by the Spaniards, who we find many despicable rhapsodies, were chiefly lashed in his satire," he so called, in Tonson's Miscellanies.' fled from Rome to Venice. There J. WARTON, Essay on Pope, i. 51. early one morning four bravos See ante, DRYDEN, 150; post, CON rushed into his chamber, and beat GREVE, 39; POPE, 320.

him to death with sand bags.' Biog. 5.Master'in the Lives is a mistake Brit. p. 2701. for 'masters.' 'His pieces,' writes For his fable of the traveller who, Duncombe (Hughes Corres. Preface, annoyed by the chirpings of the grassp. 7), 'were set by Dr. Pepusch, Mr. hoppers, stopped to kill them, and Galliard, Mr. Handel and other great so missed his way, see Euvres de masters. The six cantatas were all set Voltaire, ii. 329. by Pepusch.' Eng. Poets, xxxi. 111.

Wharton'. He judged skilfully enough of his own interest, for Wharton, when he went lord lieutenant to Ireland, offered to take Hughes with him, and establish him ; but Hughes, having hopes or promises from another man in power of some provision more suitable to his inclination, declined Wharton's offer and obtained nothing from the other.

He translated the Miser of Molière ?, which he never offered 9 to the Stage ; and occasionally amused himself with making versions of favourite scenes in other plays.

Being now received as a wit among the wits he paid his 10 contributions to literary undertakings, and assisted both The Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. In 1712 he translated Vertot's History of the Revolution of Portugals; produced an Ode to the Creator of the World, from [occasioned by] the Fragments of Orpheus •; and brought upon the Stage an opera called Calypso and Telemachus, intended to shew that the English language might be very happily adapted to musick. This was impudently opposed by those who were employed in the Italian opera ; and, what cannot be told without indignation, the intruders had such interest with the duke of Shrewsbury, then lord Chamberlain, who had married an Italian?, as to obtain an obstruction of the profits, though not an inhibition of the performance

There was at this time a project formed by Tonson for a trans- 11 lation of the Pharsalia by several hands, and Hughes englished * Ante, ADDISON, 30.

Swift wrote to Stella on Aug. 2, * Biog. Brit. p. 2702; Hughes 1711:- The Duchess of Shrewsbury Corres. Preface, p. 10.

asked the Secretary, was not that 3 Le Misanthrope.

Of L'Avare Dr. Dr.? and she could not say my he translated but the first act.

name in English, but said Dr. Presto, * For The Lay Monastery, which, which is Italian for Swift.' Swift's when 'Steele abruptly dropped The Works, ii. 312. 'She was descended Guardian,' Hughes and Blackmore by the mother's side from Robert, started, see post, BLACKMORE, 26, Earl of Leicester, the favourite of and Addison's Works, v. 411, 414. Queen Elizabeth.'' Ib. n.

5 Addison, this same year, quoted 8 "The Italians obtained from the Vertot in The Spectator, No. 349. Duke an order either to act at Gibbon describes him as an author

common prices, or not to act at whose works are read with the same all. Biog. Brit. p. 2704. pleasure as romances, to which in Addison, in The Spectator, No. other respects they bear too much 405, says the town is highly obliged resemblance.' Misc. Works, v. 389. to Signor Nicolini, the greatest per

6 Eng. Poets, xxxi. 187. The Ode former in dramatic music that is now and its ingenious author' are men living, for that generous approbation tioned in The Spectator, No. 554. he lately gave to an opera of our own See also Spectator, No. 537, and country [Calypso and Telemachus].' Hughes's Poems, 1735, Pref. p. 19. LIVES OF POETS. 11


the tenth book! But this design, as must often happen where the concurrence of many is necessary, fell to the ground ; and the

whole work was afterwards performed by Rowe”. 12

His acquaintance with the great writers of his time appears to have been very general; but of his intimacy with Addison there is a remarkable proof. It is told, on good authority, that Cato was finished and played by his persuasion ?. It had long wanted the last act, which he was desired by Addison to supply. If the request was sincere it proceeded from an opinion, whatever it was, that did not last long; for when Hughes came in a week to shew him his first attempt he found half an act written by Addison

himself. 13 He afterwards published the works of Spenser, with his Life,

a Glossary, and a Discourse on Allegorical Poetry, a work for which he was well qualified as a judge of the beauties of writings, but perhaps wanted an antiquary's knowledge of the obsolete words 6. He did not much revive the curiosity of the publick; for near thirty years elapsed before his edition was reprinted?. The same year produced his Apollo and Daphne , of which the success was very earnestly promoted by Steele', who, when the

Eng. Poets, xxxi. 285.

authors had read. Of this method Ante, ROWE, 22, 35. See Cun- Hughes, and men much greater than ningham's Lives of the Poets, ii. 185 n. Hughes, seem never to have thought."

The authority is John Duncombe. Boswell's Johnson, i. 270. Hughes Corres. Preface, p.12. Ante, For an interesting criticism of ADDISON, 56 n.

Hughes as Spenser's editor see Ante, ADDISON, 56. Dr. War W. L. Phelps's Beginnings of the ton says that 'Hughes was very cap- English Romantic Movement, p.54. able of writing this fifth act. The The first edition appeared in Siege of Damascus [post, HUGHES, 1715, the second in 1750. It was 15] is a better tragedy than Cato.' followed by an edition of The Fairy Pope's Works, 1822, i. 394.

Queen in 1751; and in 1758 three 'Spenser and Hughes seem to be separate editions appeared. Ib. p. allied by genius. Both great poets,'

86. &c. Biog. Brit. p. 2706.

Eng. Poets, xxxi. 215. 'It was perPope wrote to Hughes on Oct. 7, formed at Drury Lane with success.' 1715:—Spenser has been Biog. Dram. ii. 32. a favourite poet to me; he is like Steele wrote to him on Jan. 8, a mistress whose faults we see, but 1715-16:- A paper called The love her with them all.' Pope's Town-talk is particularly designed Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 120. to be helpful to the stage. If you have

• Johnson wrote to T. Warton, not sent the masque which is to come about his Observations on Spenser's out on Thursday to press, if you Fairy Queen : -'You have shown to please to send me the copy, it shall all who shall hereafter attempt the be recommended to the town, and study of our ancient authors the way published on Thursday night with to success; by directing them to the that paper.' Hughes Corres. i. 135. perusal of the books which those There was no notice of the masque




tage of party did not misguide him, seems to have been a man of boundless benevolence,

Hughes had hitherto suffered the mortifications of a narrow 14 fortune; but in 1717 the lord chancellor Cowper set him at ease, by making him secretary to the Commissions of the Peace; in which he afterwards, by a particular request, desired his successor lord Parker to continue him?. He had now affluence; but such is human life, that he had it when his declining health could neither allow him long possession nor quick enjoyment.

His last work was his tragedy The Siege of Damascus ; after 15 which A Siege became a popular titles. This play, which still continues on the Stage“, and of which it is unnecessary to add a private voice to such continuance of approbation, is not acted or printed according to the author's original draught, or his settled intention. He had made Phocyas apostatize from his religion ; after which the abhorrence of Eudocia would have been reasonable, his misery would have been just, and the horrors of his repentance exemplary. The players, however, required that the guilt of Phocyas should terminate in desertion to the enemy; and Hughes, unwilling that his relations should lose the benefit of his work, complied with the alteration 5. in Town-talk, which lasted only On Parker's birth-day he wrote :nine numbers. It was reprinted in Not fair July, though plenty clothe 1790.

his fields, i Post, SAVAGE, 29.

Though golden suns make all his · Parker (afterwards created Earl mornings smile, of Macclesfield) succeeded Cowper on Can boast of aught that such a May 12, 1718.' Burke's Peerage.

triumph yields Lord Cowper made Hughes Secre As that he gave a Parker to our tary a month after he read the manu isle.'

Ib. p. 266. script of The Siege of Damascus, and 3 In Biog. Dram. iii. 273 noless than when Lord Parker succeeded him, thirty-seven Sieges are enumerated. though Lord C. was too angry with him Macready records in his Reministo desire him to continue any one else, cences, i. 49, that he played Phocyas he did desire him to continue Mr. in 1811. Hughes. Lord Parker did so. He 5.The managers of Drury Lane was never in any circumstances till house pretended that Phocyas could his secretaryship, which was but a not be a hero if he changed his refew years before his death.' Spence's ligion, and that the audience would Anec. p. 302. For Cowper's letter of not bear the sight of him after it.' recommendation to Parkersee Hughes Hughes Corres. iii. App. p. 70. See Corres. i. 190. Hughes ends an Ode ib. p. 71 for the original draught' to Lord Chancellor Cowper by wish of this scene. ing that on his own tombstone should Gibbon, in a note in The Decline be engraved :

and Fall, v. 426, says :

-On the fate * Here lies his clay to earth consigned of these lovers, whom he names To whom great Cowper once was Phocyas and Eudocia, Mr. Hughes kind.' Eng. Poets, xxxi. 238. has built the siege of Damascus, one

16 He was now weak with a lingering consumption, and not able

to attend the rehearsal; yet was so vigorous in his faculties that only ten days before his death he wrote the dedication to his patron, lord Cowper'. On February 17, 1719-20, the play was represented, and the author died. He lived to hear that it was well received; but paid no regard to the intelligence, being then · wholly employed in the meditations of a departing Christian.

A man of his character was undoubtedly regretted?; and Steele devoted an essay, in the paper called The Theatre, to the memory of his virtues 3. His life is written in the Biographia with some degree of favourable partiality, and an account of him is prefixed to his works by his relation the late Mr. Duncombe 5,

a man whose blameless elegance deserved the same respect. 18 The character of his genius I shall transcribe from the corre

spondence of Swift and Pope. 19 A month ago,' says Swift“, was sent me over by a friend of

mine the works of John Hughes, Esquire. They are in prose and verse. I never heard of the man in my life, yet I find your name as a subscriber [too]. He is too grave? a poet for me; and I think among the mediocrists , in prose as well as verse.' of our most popular tragedies, and formance, 'recalled,' he writes, 'into which possesses the rare merit of my thought a speech in the tragedy blending nature and history, the which was attended to with an manners of the times and the feelings awful silence. . . . The words with of the heart. The foolish delicacy which the Turkish general makes of the players compelled him to his exit from the prisoners are :soften the guilt of the hero and the "Farewell, and think of death." ; despair of the heroine. Instead of Steele quotes

the prisoner's speech a base renegado, Phocyas serves that follows. The Theatre, No. xv, the Arabs as an honourable ally; quoted in Hughes Corres. Preface, instead of prompting their pursuit, p. 21. he flies to the succour of his country Ante, MILTON, 143 n. 4. men, and, after killing Caled and 5 'He married Hughes's sister; Derar, is himself mortally wounded, was the author of two tragedies and and expires in the presence of Eu other ingenious productions, and died docia, who professes her resolution Feb. 26, 1769, aged 79.' MALONE, to take the veil at Constantinople. Boswell's Johnson, iii

. 314. For A frigid catastrophe !'

Johnson's praise of him as a pleasHe wrote at the same time the ing man' see ib. (see Nichols's Lit. Prologue and Epilogue. Spence's Anec. viii. 266 for a memoir of him). Anec. p. 302.

6 An edition of Hughes's Poems, * Dr. Watts wrote on receiving in 2 vols. 12mo, was published in a present of his Works :-Methinks 1735. Swift wrote on September 3 I see the very man, my old acquaint of that year and Pope replied in ance there, with his temper and November Swift's Works, xviii. softness, his wit and sprightly genius 330, 331 ; Pope's Works (Elwin and spreading almost over every page. Courthope), vii. 333, 335. Hughes Corres. ii. 82.

? In the first edition great.' Steele, the day after the per 8 Swift wrote mediocribus, with


« PreviousContinue »