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whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy, He afterwards published the works of Spenser, and who never, I believe, found many readers with his life, a glossary, and a Discourse on n this country, even though introduced by such Allegorical Poetry; a work for which he was powerful recommendation.
well qualified as a judge of the beauties of writ. He translated Fontenelle's “ Dialogues of the ing, but perhaps wanted an antiquary's know Dead ;” and his version was perhaps read at ledge of the obsolete words. He did not much that time, but is now neglected; for by a book not revive the curiosity of the public; for near necessary, and uwing its reputation wholly thirty years elapsed before his edition was reto its turn of diction, fittle notice can be gained printed. The same year produced his “ Apollo but from those who can enjoy the graces of the and Daphne,” of which the success was very original. To the “ Dialogues" of Fontenelle earnestly promoted by Steele, who, when the he added two composed by himself; and, though rage of party did not misguide him, seems to not only an honest but a pious man, dedicated have been a man of boundless benevolence. his work to the Earl of Wharton. He judged Hughes had hitherto suffered the mortifican skilfully enough of his own interest; for Whar- tions of a narrow fortune; but in 1717 the Lordton, when he went lord-lieutenant to Ireland, chancellor Cowper set him at ease; by making offered to take Hughes with him and establish him secretary to the commissions of the peace; him; but Hughes, baving hopes, or promises, in which he afterwards, by a particular request, from another man in power, of some provision desired his successor Lord Parker to continue more suitable to his inclination, declined Whar- him. He had now affuence; but such is ton's offer, and obtained nothing from the other. human life, that he had it when his declining
He translated the “ Miser” of Moliere, which health could neither allow him long possession he never offered to the stage ; and' occasionally nor quick enjoyment. amused himself with making versions of favour- His last work was his tragedy, “ The Siege ite scenes in other plays.
of Damascus," after which a Siege became a Being now received as a wit among the wits, popular title. This play, which still continues he paid his contributions to literary undertak- on the stage, and of which it is unnecessary to ings, and assisted both the “ Tatler,” “ Spec- add a private voice to such continuance of aptator,” and “ Guardian.” In 1712 he trans- probation, is not acted or printed according to lated Vertot’s “ History of the Revolution of the author's original draught or his settled inPortugal,” produced an “ Ode to the Creator tention. He had made Phocyas apostatize from of the World, from the Fragments of Orpheus,' his religion; after which the abhorrence of and brought upon the stage an opera called Eudocia would have been reasonable, his misery “ Calypso and Telemachus,” intended to show would have been just, and the horrors of his rethat the English language might be very happily pentance exemplary. The players, however, adapted to music. This was impudently op- required that the guilt of Phocyas should tere posed by those who were employed in the Italian minate in desertion to the enemy; and Hughes, npera; and, what cannot be told without indig- unwilling that his relations should lose the uation, the intruders had such interest with the benefit of his work, complied with the alteraDuke of Shrewsbury, then lord-chamberlain, tion, who had married an Italian, as to obtain an ob- He was now weak with a lingering consumpstruction of the profits, though not an inhibition tion, and not able to attend the rehearsal, yet of the performance,
was so vigorouş, in his faculties that only ten There was at this time a project formed by days before his death he wrote the dedication to Tonson for a translation of the “ Pharsalia” by his patron, Lord Cowper. On February 17, several hands; and Hughes Englished the tenth 1719-20, the play was represented, and the look. But this design, as must often happen author died. He lived to hear that it was well when the concurrence of many is necessary, fell received; but paid no regard to the intelligence, to the ground; and the whole work was after being then wholly employed in the meditations wards performed by Rowe.
of a departing Christian. His acquaintance with the great writers of A man of his character was undoubtedly rehis time appears to have been very general; but gretted ; and Steele devoted an essay, in the of his intimacy with Addison there is a remark- paper, called “ The Theatre," to the memory able
, proof. It is told, on good authority, that of his virtues. His life is written in the Cato” was finished and played by his persua
“ Biographia” with some degree of favourable sion. It had long wanted the last Act, which partiality; and an account of him is prefixed tf he was desired by Addison to supply. If the his works by bis relation the late Mr. Dunrequest was sincere, it proceeded from an opinion, combe, a man whose blameless elegance deserved whatever it was, that did not last long; for the same respect. when Hughes came in a week to show him his The character of his genius I shall transcribe tirst attempt, he found half an act written by from the correspondence of Swift and Pope. Addison himself.
“ A month ago,” says Swist, “were sent me
over, by a friend of mine, the works of John question as to Mr. Hughes: what he wanted in Hughes, Esquire. They are in prose and verse. genius, he made up as an honest man; but he I never heard of the man in my life, yet I find was of the class you think him.”+ your name as a subscriber. He is too grave a In Spence's Collection, Pope is made to speak poet for me, and I think among the mediocrists of him with still less respect, as having no claim in prose as well as verse.'
to poetical reputation but from his tragedy. To this Pope returns : " To answer your
John SHEFFIELD, descended from a long series , when the wind sometimes blew away the smoke, of illustrious ancestors, was born in 1649, the it was so clear a sun-shiny day, that we could son of Edmund earl of Mulgrave, who died in easily perceive the bullets (that were half spent) 1658. The young Lord was put into the hands fall into the water, and from thence bound up of a tutor, with whom he was so little satisfied, again among us, which gives sufficient time for that he got rid of him in a short time, and at an making a step or two on any side; though in se age not exceeding twelve years resolved to edu- swift a motion, it is hard to judge.well in what cate himself. Such a purpose, formed at such line the bullet comes, which, if mistaken, may an age, and successfully prosecuted, delights, as by removing cost a man his life, instead of savit is strange, and instructs, as it is real.
His literary acquisitions are more wonderful, His behaviour was so favourably represented as those years in which they are commonly made by Lord Ossory, that he was advanced to the were spent by him in the tumult of a military command of the Catherine, the best second-rato life, or the gayety of a court. When war was ship in the navy. declared against the Dutch, he went, at seven- He afterwards raised a regiment of foot, and teen, on board the ship in which Prince Rupert commanded it as colonel. The land-forces were and the Duke of Albemarle sailed, with the sent ashore by Prince Rupert ; and he lived in command of the fleet : but by contrariety of the camp very familiarly with Schomberg. He winds they were restrained from action. His was then appointed colonel of the old Holland zeal for the King's service was recompensed by regiment, together with his own, and had the the command of one of the independent troops of promise of a garter, which he obtained in his horse, then raised to protect the coast.
twenty-fifth year. He was likewise made genNext year he received a summons to parlia- tleman of the bed-chamber. He afterwards ment, which, as he was then but eighteen years went into the French service, to learn the art of old, the Earl of Northumberland censured as at war under Turenne, but stayed only a short least indecent, and his objection was allowed. time. Being by the Duke of Monmouth opposHe had a quarrel with the Earl of Rochester, ed in his pretensions to the first troop of horsewhich he has perhaps too ostentatiously related, guards, he, in return, made Monmouth suspectas Rochester's surviving sister, the Lady Sand- ed by the Duke of York. He was not long wich, is said to have told him with very sharp after, when the unlucky Monmouth fell into reproaches.
disgrace, recompensed with the lieutenancy of When another Dutch war (1672) broke out, Yorkshire and the government of Hull. he went again a volunteer in the ship which the Thus rapidly did he make his way both to celebrated Lord Ossory commanded ; and there military and civil honours and employments; yet, made, as he relates, two curious remarks: busy as he was, he did not neglect bis studies,
“I have observed two things, which I dare affirm, though not generally believed. One was, that the wind of a cannon bullet, though flying and, in a note in his late edition of Pope's Works,
* This, Dr. Warton asserts, is very unjust census'e : never so near, is incapable of doing the least
asks if “ the Author of such a tragedy as “The Siege harm; and, indeed, were it otherwise, no man
of Damascus' was one of the mediocribus ? Swift above deck would escape. The other was, that and Pope seem not to recollect the value and A great shot may be sometimes avoided, even as rank of an author who could write such a trag. It flies, by changing one's ground a little; for, | edy."-C.
but at least cultivated poetry; in which he to the King whom I then served." To which must have been early considered as uncommonly King William replied, “ I cannot blame you. skilful, if it be true which is reported, that when Finding King James irremediably excluded, he was yet not twenty years old, his recommen- he voted for the conjunctive sovereignty, upon dation advanced Dryden to the laurel.
this principle, that he thought the title of the The Moors having besieged Tangier, he was Prince and his Consort equal, and it would sent (1680) with two thousand men to its relief. please the Prince their protector, to have a share A strange story is told of the danger to which in the sovereignty. This vote gratified King he was intentionally exposed in a leaky ship, to William ; yet, either by the King's distrust, or gratify some resentful jealousy of the King, his own discontent, he lived some years without whose health he therefore would never permit employment. He looked on the King with at his table till be saw himself in a safer place. malevolence, and if his verses or his prose may His voyage was prosperously performed in three ' be credited, with contempt. He was, notwithweeks; and the Moors without a contest retired standing this aversion or indifference, made before bim.
marquis of Normanby (1694), but still opposed In this voyage he composed “ The Vision;" a the court on some important questions; yet at licentious poem ; such as was fashionable in last he was received into the cabinet council, those times, with little power of invention or with a pension of three thousand pounds. propriety of sentiment.
At the accession of Queen Anne, whom he is At bis return he found the King kind, whu said to have courted when they were both young, perhaps had never been angry; and he continued he was highly favoured. Before her coronation a wit and a courtier as before.
(1702) she made him Lord privy-seal, and soon At the succession of King James, to whom he after lord-lieutenant of the North riding of was intimately known, and by whom he thought Yorkshire. He was then named commissioner himself beloved, he naturally expected still for treating with the Scots about the Union ; brighter sunshine; but all know how soon that and was made next year, first, Duke of Norreign began to gather clouds. His expectations manby, and then of Buckinghamshire, there bewere not disappointed; he was immediately ad-ing suspected to be somewhere, a latent claim to mitted into the privy-council, and made lord- the title of Buckingham. chamberlain. He accepted a place in the high Soon after, becoming jealous of the Duke of commission, without knowledge, as he declared Marlborough, he resigned the privy-seal, and after the Revolution, of its illegality. Having joined the discontented tories in a motion, exfew religious scruples, he attended the King to tremely offensive to the Queen, for inviting the mass, and kneeled with the rest, but had no dis- Princess Sophia to England. The Queen position to receive the Romish faith, or to force courted him back with an offer no less than that it upon others; for when the priests, encouraged of the chancellorship; which he refused. He by his appearances of compliance, attempted to now retired from business, and built that house convert him, he told them, as Burnet has re- in the Park which is now the Queen's, upon corded, that he was willing to receive instruc- ground granted by the crown. tion, and that he had taken much pains to be- When the ministry was changed (1710), he lieve in God who had made the world and all was made lord-chamberlain of the household, men in it; but that he should not be easily and concurred in all transactions of that time, persuaded that man was quits, and made God except that he endeavoured to protect the Cataagain.
lans. After the Queen's death he became a A pointed sentence is bestowed by successive constant opponent of the court; and, having no transmission to the last whom it will fit: this public business, is supposed to have amused censure of transubstantiation, whatever be its himself by writing his two tragedies. He died . value, was uttered long ago by Anne Askew, February 24, 1720-21. one of the first sufferers for the protestant reli- He was thrice married; by his two first wives gion, who, in the time of Henry VIII. was tor- he had no children; by his third, who was the tured in the Tower; concerning which there is daughter of King James by the Countess of reason to wonder that it was not known to the Dorchester, and the widow of the Earl of Anghistorian of the Reformation.
lesy, he had, besides other children that died In the Revolution he acquiesced, though he early, a son, born in 1716, who died in 1735, and did not promote it. There was once a design of put an end to the line of Sheffield. It is obserassociating him in the invitation of the Prince vable, that the Duke's three wives were all of Orange ; but the Earl of Shrewsbury dis- widows. The dutchess died in 1742. couraged the attempt, by declaring that Mul- His character is not to be proposed as worthy grave would never concur. This King William of imitation. His religion he may be supposed afterwards told him; and asked him what he to have learned from Hobbes ; and his morality would have done if the proposal had been made: was such as naturally proceeds from loose opin
Sir,” said he, “ I would have discovered it | ions. His sentiments with respect to women he
picked up in the court of Charles; and his prin-, Must above Milton's lofty flights prevail, ciples concerning property were such as a gam
Succeed where great "Torquato, and where greatet ing-table supplies. He was censured as covet
Spenser fail. Ous,
and has been defended by an instance of in- The last line in succeeding editions was shortattention to his affairs, as if a man might not at ened, and the order of names continued; but once be corrupted by avarice and idleness. He now Milton is at last advanced to the highest is said, however, to have had much tenderness, place, and the passage thus adjusted : and to have been very ready to apologize for his violences of passion.
Must above Tasso's lofty flights prevail, He is introduced into this collection only as a Succeed where Spenser, and ev’n Milton fail. poet; and if we credit the testimony of his contemporaries, he was a poet of no vulgar rank. Amendments are seldom made without some. But favour and flattery are now at an end; cri- token of a rent: lofty does not suit Tasso so ticism is no longer softened by his bounties, or
well as Milton. awed by his splendour, and, being able to take a One celebrated line seems to be borrowed. more steady view, discovers him to be a writer | The Essay calls a perfect character that sometimes glimmers, but rarely shines,
A faultless monster which the world ne'er saw. feebly laborious, and at best but pretty. His songs are upon common topics ; he hopes, and Scaliger, in his poems, terms Virgil sine lave grieves, and repents, and despairs, and rejoices, monstrum. Sheffield can scarcely be supposed like any other maker of little stanzas: to be great, to have read Scaliger's poetry; perhaps he found he hardly tries ; to be gay, is hardly in his power.
the words in a quotation. · In his “ Essay on Satire,” he was always sup- Of this Essay, which Dryden has exalted sa posed to have had the help of Dryden. His highly, it may be justly said that the precepts “ Essay on Poetry” is the great work for which are judicious, sometimes new, and often happily he was praised by Roscommon, Dryden, and expressed; but there are, after all the emendaPope; and doubtless by many more whose eu- tions, many weak lines, and some strange aplogies bave perished.
pearances of negligence; as, when he gives the Upon this piece he appears to have set a high laws of elegy, he insists upon connexion and value; for he was all his life-time improving it coherence; without which, says he, by successive revisals, so that there is scarcely any poem to be found of which the last edition 'Tis epigram, 'ris point, 'tis wliat you will : differs more from the first. Amongst other
But not an elegy, nor writ with skill,
No Panegyric, nor a Cooper's Hill. changes, mention is made of some compositions of Dryden, which were written after the first Who would not suppose that Waller's “ Paneappearance of the Essay.
gyric” and Denham's “ Cooper's Hill” were At the time when this work first appeared, elegies? Milton's fame was not yet fully established, and His verses are often insipid, but his memoirs therefore Tasso and Spenser were set before are lively and agreeable; he had the perspicuity him. The two last lines were these. The epic and elegance of an historian, but not the fire poet, says he,
and fancy of a poet.
MATTHEW Prior is one of those that has burst | like Don Quixote, that the historian of his acout from an obscure original to great eminence. tions might find him some illustrious alliance. He was born July 21, 1664, according to some, at Winburn, in Dorsetshire, of I know not what parents; others say, that he was the son
at his admission hy the President, Matthew Prior, of a joiner of London; he was perhaps willing of Winburn, in Middlesex; by himself, next day, enough to leave his birth unsettled,* in hope, in Middlesex, Winborn, or Winborne, as it stands
Matthew Prior, of Dorsetshire, in which couvty, not
in the Villare, is found. When he stood candidate • The difficulty of settling Prior's birth-place is for his fellowship, five years afterwards, he was great. In the Register of his College he is called, registered again by himself as of Middlesex. Tho
He is supposed to have fallen, by his father's ; pleasure of fretting Dryden; for they were both death, into the hands of his uncle, a vintner, * speedily preferred. Montague, indeed, obtained near Charing Cross, who sent him for some the first notice, with some degree of discontent, time to Dr. Busby, at Westminster; but, not as it seems, in Prior, who probably knew that intending to give him any education beyond his own part of the performance was the best. that of the school, took him, when he was well He had not, however, much reason to complain; advanced in literature, to his own house, where for he came to London, and obtained suct the Earl of Dorset, celebrated for patronage of notice, that (in 1691) he was sent to the Congress genius, found him by chance, as Burnet relates, at the Hague as secretary to the embassy. In reading Horace, and was so well pleased with this assembly of princes and nobles, to which his proficiency, that he undertook the care and Europe has perhaps scarcely seen any thing cost of his academical education.
equal, was formed the grand alliance against He entered his name in St. John's College, at Louis, which at last did not produce effects Cambridge, in 1682, in his eighteenth year; and proportionate to the magnificence of the transit may be reasonably supposed that he was dis-action. tinguished among his contemporaries. He be- The conduct of Prior in this splendid initi. came a bachelor, as is usual, in four years ;t ation into public business was so pleasing to and two years afterwards wrote the poem on the King Williain, that he made him one of the “ Deity,” which stands first in his volume. gentlemen of his bed-chamber ; and he is sup
It is the established practice of that College, posed to have passed some of the next years in to send every year to the Earl of Exeter some the quiet cultivation of literature and poetry. poems upon sacred subjects, in acknowledgment The death of Queen Mary (in 1695) produced of a benefaction enjoyed by them from the boun- a subject for all the writers; perhaps no funeral ty of his ancestor. On this occasion were those was ever so poetically attended. Dryden, inverses written, which, though nothing is said of deed, as a man discountenanced and deprived, their success, seem to have recommended him to was silent; but scarcely any other maker of some notice; for his praise of the Countess's verses omitted to bring his tribute of tuneful music, and his lines on the famous picture of sorrow. An emulation of elegy was universal. Seneca, afford reason for imagining that he was
Maria's praise was not confined to the English more or less conversant with that family. language, but fills a great part of the “ Muse
The same year he published the “ City Mouse Anglicanæ." and Country Mouse,” to ridicule Dryden's Prior, who was both a poet and a courtier, “ Hind and Panther," in conjunction with Mr.
was too diligent to miss this opportunity of reMontague. There is a storyf of great pain suf- spect. He wrote a long ode, which was prefered, and of tears shed, on this occasion, by sented to the King, by whom it was not likely Dryden, who thought it hard that “ an old
to be ever read. man should be so treated by those to whom he In two years he was secretary to another emhad always been civil.” By tales like these is bassy, at the treaty of Ryswick (in 1697*); and the envy raised by superior abilities every day next year had the same office at the court of gratified : when they are attacked, every one France, where he is said to have been considered hopes to see them humbled: what is hoped is with great distinction. readily believed, and what is believed is confi- As he was one day surveying the apartments dently told. Dryden had been more accustomed at Versailles, being shown the victories of Louis, to hostilities than that such enemies should painted by Le Brun, and asked whether the break his quiet; and if we can suppose him King of England's palace had any such decoravexed, it would be hard to deny him sense
tions : “ The monuments of my master's acenough to conceal his uneasiness.
tions,” said he, “ are to be seen every where The “ City Mouse and Country Mouse” pro- but in his own house." cured its author's more solid advantages than the The pictures of Le Brun are not only in
themselves sufficiently ostentatious, but were
explained by inscriptions so arrogant, that Boilast record ought to be preferred, because it was leau and Racine thought it necessary to make made upon oath. It is observable, that, as a natire
them more simple. of Winborne, he is styled Filius Georgii Prior, generosi; not consistently with the common account of
He was in the following year at Loo with the the meanness of his birth.-Dr. J.
King; from whom, after a long' audience, he : Samuel Prior kept the Rummer Tavern, near
carried orders to England, and upon his arrival Charing Cross, in 1685. The annual feast of the no- became under-secretary of state in the Earl of bility and gentry living in the parish of St. Martin Jersey's office; a post which he did not retain in the Fields was held at his house, October 14, that year.-N.
" He was admitted to his bachelor's degree in * He received, in September, 1697, a present of 200 18s; and to his waster's, by mandate, in 1700.--N. guineas from the lords justices, for his trouble a Spence.
bringing over the treaty of peace.-N.