« PreviousContinue »
NICHOLAS ROWE, born about 1673 in Bedfordshire, was educated for the law, his father's profession. His plays, of which the chief are The Fair Penitent and Jane Shore, won for the young lawyer the notice of the great. His social qualities endeared him to his literary friends. Upon the accession of George I. he was made Poet-laureate, and held other more lucrative public offices. Rowe died in 1718, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Pope, Swift, and Addison were prominent among his friends. He is also remembered as the first editor of Shakspere worthy of the name.
ISAAC Watts, born in 1674 at Southampton, became at twentyfour assistant minister of an Independent congregation at Stoke Newington. But his weak health prevented him from retaining this position. The last thirty-six years of his long life were spent in Abney House, whose kind owner, Sir Thomas Abney, was his warmest friend. Here he wrote the beautifully simple Hymns, which have made his name familiar to childhood. His works on Logic, and The Improvement of the Mind, show that he could write English prose also with clearness and force. He died in 1748.
AMBROSE PAILIPS, born in 1675 in Shropshire, received his education at St. John's, Cambridge. He was the real original
PARNELL, TICKELL, RAMSAY.
Namby Pamby,—a nickname which was given to him on account of the complimentary versicles he was fond of addressing to his friends and their babies. His Pastorals, though much praised in his own day, have not held their place in public favour. Philips was bitterly satirized by Pope. He died in 1749.
THOMAS PARNELL, of English descent, but born in Dublin in 1679, became archdeacon of Clogher, and, through the influence of his friend Swift, vicar of Finglas. He lived chiefly in London. The Hermit is the
for which he now lives among names of English literature. He died and was buried at Chester in 1718.
THOMAS TICKELL, one of Addison's most intimate friends, born near Carlisle in 1686, wrote the pathetic ballad of Colin and Lucy. He undertook that translation of the Iliad which deepened Pope's feeling towards Addison into something akin to hatred. Tickell served Addison as secretary, and in 1724 went to Ireland as Secretary to the Lords-Justices. He died at Bath in 1740. He wrote an allegorical poem called Kensington Gardens, besides many papers in the Spectator and the Guardian.
ALLAN RAMSAY, who was born in 1686 and died in 1758, was a native of Leadhills, a Lanarkshire village. Most of his long life was passed in Edinburgh, where he was a wig-maker, and then a bookseller. His circulating library was the first that was established in Scotland. The small quaint house, on the slope of the Castle Hill, called Ramsay Lodge, was his residence during his last twelve years. Allan's shop was a favourite lounge of the poet Gay, when he came to Edinburgh. Ramsay's pastoral drama, The Gentle Shepherd, first published in 1725 and written in the strong broad Doric of North Britain, is the finest existing specimen of its class. His songs, too, have endeared him to the Scottish heart. The Yellow-haired Laddie and Lochaber no More are two of his most popular lyrics.
John Gay, a Devonshire man of good family, born in 1688, was at first apprenticed to a silk-mercer in the Strand. But his wishes soared higher, especially after he took up the poet's pen. As domestic secretary to the Duchess of Monmouth, he found
GAY, SAVAGE, BLAIR, DYER.
“ There,” says
more leisure for writing, and rapidly brought out several poems and dramatic pieces. For about two months he held the position of Secretary to the Embassy at Hanover. But he was not fitted for business of any kind, and found his proper sphere when he was permitted to nestle down in a corner of the Queensberry household as a humble friend and domestic joker. Thackeray, “ he was lapped in cotton, and had his plate of chicken and his saucer of cream, and frisked, and barked, and wheezed, and grew fat, and so ended." The Shepherd's Week, a series of comic pastorals ; Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London; and The Fan, in three books, are among his works. But his fame rests chiefly on his artless, pleasant Fables, his song of Black-eyed Susan, and his Beggars' Opera. Gay died of fever in 1732.
RICHARD SAVAGE, born about 1697 in London, was the illegitimate child of noble parents. His history is a miserable tale. Drink and debauchery plunged him lower and lower, until in 1743 he was found dead in his wretched bed within Bristol Jail, where he lay a prisoner for debt. The Wanderer is his principal work; written in 1729, during a short glimpse of sunshine which he enjoyed in Lord Tyrconnel's mansion.
ROBERT BLAIR, born in 1699 at Edinburgh, became at thirtytwo minister of Athelstaneford in East Lothian. Before that event he had composed his fine blank-verse poem, The Grave, but it was not published till 1743. A private fortune enabled Blair to cultivate society above what usually falls to the lot of a country minister. He died in 1746.
JOHN DYER, painter, poet, and clergyman, was born in Caermarthenshire about 1698, and died in 1758. He wrote Grongar Hill, The Ruins of Rome, and The Fleece; works which, especially the first, entitle him to a high place among descriptive and picturesque poets.
ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, Earl of Shaftesbury, was born in London in 1671. In fine, sonorous, and elaborate English he
SHAFTESBORY, BOLINGBROKE, BERKELEY.
discussed the great thenies of metaphysics, most difficult of all sciences. His belief in a “moral sense, by which virtue and vice --things naturally and fundamentally distinct-are discriminated, and at once approved of or condemned, without reference to the self-interest of him who judges," is the salient point in his philosophical system. His works, published in three volumes, bear the name, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times. He died at Naples in 1713.
SAMUEL CLARKE, Newton's friend, was born at Norwich in 1675. A graduate of Cambridge, he entered the Church, in which he held important livings both in his native town and in Westminster. His works are chiefly on such theological and metaphysical subjects, as The Being and Attributes of God, Natural and Revealed Religion, The Immortality of the Soul, and The Trinity. This learned and worthy man died in 1729. His refusal to accept the lucrative post of Master of the Mint, vacant by Newton's death, because it would interfere with his clerical duties, shows the unworldliness of his devotion to the sacred office he bad chosen.
HENRY ST. JOHN, Viscount Bolingbroke, born at Battersea in 1678, received his education at Eton and Oxford. He was noted as a cold-hearted profligate, as an unfortunate politician, and as a writer of much eloquence, but of unfixed and shifting principles, both in religion and philosophy. In the reign of Anne he was Secretary of State. But the accession of the Guelphs drove him to France, where he joined the Pretender. A pardon enabled him in 1723 to return to England; but he was obliged again to retire across the Straits. During those days of exile in France some of his chief works were written : Reflections on Exile, Letters on the Study of History, and a Letter on the True Use of Retirement. He afterwards wrote at Battersea Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, and the Idea of a Patriot King. From Bolingbroke Pope got much of that ethical system unfolded in the Essay on Man. Bolingbroke died in 1751.
GEORGE BERKELEY, made Bishop of Cloyne in 1734, was then fifty years of age. He was born in 1684 at Thomastown, in the LADY MONTAGU, CHESTERFIELD, HOME.
293 county Kilkenny. He is noted among our metaphysical writers, especially for his Theory of Vision, and those works which embody and display his theory of ideas. He strives, but in vain, to prove that all sensible qualities, hardness, figure, extension, &c., are mere ideas in our own minds, and have no existence at all in the things we call hard, &c.—a dangerous and unsound doctrine, Berkeley died at Oxford in 1753. His English is simple, scholar-like, and clear.
LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU, daughter of the Duke of Kingston, was born in 1690, and at twenty-two was married to Edward Wortley Montagu. Her residence for two years (1716-18) at Constantinople, where her husband was English ambassador, gave her an opportunity of seeing life in many varieties, and her graceful, graphic Letters, descriptive of travel and foreign fashions, abound with light and most agreeable reading.
Her amusement at Pope's silly declaration of love for her threw her into a hearty burst of laughter, which made the little poet ever afterwards her mortal foe. She died in 1761, and her “Letters were first printed two years later. She conferred a great benefit on England by the introduction of inoculation for the small-pox, a practice she had noticed among the Turkish poor.
PHILIP STANHOPE, Earl of Chesterfield, born in 1694, wrote a series of Letters to his son, which had a great sale in the years succeeding the author's death. They are just such Letters as a polished infidel man of fashion would write, and depict anything but the true notion of gentlemanhood. A brilliant polish on the surface would atone, according to the maxims of Chesterfield, for any rottenness, however great, within. He died in 1773.
HENRY HOME, born in 1696, assumed the title of Lord Kames, when in 1752 he ascended the Scottish bench. The work for which bis name is best known is that entitled The Elements of Criticism, in which he founds the art upon the principles of human nature. He wrote other metaphysical and several legal works. He died in 1782.