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INDEX OF MINOR POETS AND PROSE
JOHN ARMSTRONG (1709-1779), a Scotchman by birth, practised in London as a physician after some surgical experience in the navy. Believing any subject suitable for poetry, he wrote in blank verse, reminding one of Thomson, The Art of Preserving Health (1744), a poem containing some powerful passages, and many which are better fitted for a medical treatise than for poetry. An earlier and licentious poem The Economy of Love, which injured him in his profession, was 'revised and corrected by the author' in 1768.
If bulk were a sign of merit Sir RICHARD BLACKMORE (1650-1729) would not rank with the minor poets. He wrote several long and wearisome epics, his best work in Dr. Johnson's judgment being The Creation (1712), which was praised by Addison in the Spectator as one of the most useful and noble productions in our English verse,' a judgment the modern reader is not likely to endorse.
HENRY BROOKE (1706-1783), an Irishman, was the author of a poem entitled Universal Beauty (1735). Four years later he published Gustavus Vasa, a tragedy, which was not allowed to be acted, the sentiments being too liberal for the government. His Fool of Quality (1766) a novel in five volumes, delighted John Wesley, and in our day, Charles Kingsley, who praises its · broad and genial
humanity.' Brooke was a follower of William Law, whose mysticism is to be seen in the story.
WILLIAM BROOME (1689-1745) is chiefly known from his association with Pope in the translation of the Odyssey, of which enough has been said elsewhere (p. 38). His name suggested the following epigram to Henley:
* Pope came off clean with Homer; but they say
Broome went before and kindly swept the way.' He entered holy orders, had two livings in Suffolk and one in Norfolk, and married a wealthy widow. His verses are mechanically correct, but are empty of poetry.
John Byrom (1691-1763), the friend and disciple of William Law, the author of the Serious Call, is best remembered for his system of shorthand. In a characteristic, copious, and not very attractive journal, he describes, for the consolation of his fellow mortals, how he makes resolutions and breaks them. Byrom wrote rhyme with ease and on subjects with which poetry has nothing to do. His most successful achievement was a pastoral, Colin and Phoebe, which appeared in the Spectator (Vol. viii., No. 603). It was written in honour of the daughter of Dr. Bentley, Master of Trinity, 'not,' it has been said, because he wished to win her affections, but because he desired to secure her father's interest for the Fellowship for which he was a candidate.' The plan was successful. The one verse of Byrom’s that every one has read is the happy epigram :
‘God bless the King !-I mean the faith's defender-
God bless us all !—that's quite another thing.' SAMUEL CLARKE (1675-1729), a man of large attainments in science and divinity, was the favourite theo
logian of Queen Caroline, who admired his latitudinarian views, and delighted in his conversation. His works, edited by Bishop Hoadly, were published in 1738 in four folio volumes. In 1704 he delivered the Boyle lectures on The Being and Attributes of God, and in 1705 On Natural and Revealed Religion. His Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (1712) was condemned by convocation. In defence of Sir Isaac Newton, Clarke had a controversy with Leibnitz, and having published the correspondence dedicated it to the Queen. His sermons, Mr. Leslie Stephen says, are • for the most part not sermons at all, but lectures upon metaphysics.' In Addison's judgment Clarke was one of the most accurate, learned, and judicious writers the age had produced.
ELIJAH FENTON (1683-1730) wrote poems and Mariamne, a tragedy, in which, according to his friend Broome, 'great Sophocles revives and reappears.' It was acted with applause, and brought nearly one thousand pounds to its author. His name is now chiefly known as having assisted Pope in his translation of the Odyssey.
RICHARD GLOVER (1712-1785), the son of a London merchant, was himself a merchant of high reputation in the city. He also cultivated the Muses, and his Leonidas (1737), an elaborate poem in blank verse, preferred by some critics of the day to Paradise Lost, passed through several editions and was praised by Fielding and by Lord Chatham. Power is visible in this epic, which displays also a large amount of knowledge, but the salt of genius is wanting, and the poem, despite many estimable qualities, is now forgotten. Leonidas was followed by Boadicea (1758), and The Atheniad, published after his death in 1788. Glover was a politician as well as a verseman. feeling probably inspired Admiral Hosier's Ghost (1739), a ballad still remembered and preserved in anthologies.
MATTHEW GREEN (1696-1737) is the author of The Spleen, an original and brightly written poem. The Grotto, printed but not published in 1732, is also marked by freshness of treatment. Green's poems, written in octosyllabic metre, were published after his death.
JAMES HAMMOND (1710-1742) produced many forlorn elegies on a lady who appears to have scorned him, and who lived in ‘maiden meditation' for nearly forty years after the poet's death. His love is said to have affected his mind for a time. · Sure Hammond has no right,' says Shenstone, 'to the least inventive merit. I do not think that there is a single thought in his elegies of any eminence that is not literally translated.'
NATHANIEL HOOKE (1690-1763), the author of a Roman History, is better known as the editor of An Account of the conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from her first coming to Court in the year 1710, in a letter from herself to Lord in 1742. The duchess is said to have dictated this letter from her bed, and to have been so eager for its completion that she insisted on Hooke's not leaving the house till he had finished it. He was munificently rewarded for his labour by a present of £5,000. It was Hooke, a zealous Roman Catholic, who, when Pope was dying, asked him if he should not send for a priest, and received the poet's hearty thanks for putting him in mind of it.
John HUGHES (1677-1719) was the author of poems, an opera, a masque, several translations, and a tragedy, The Siege of Damascus, which was well received, and kept its place on the stage for some years. He died on the first night's performance of the play. Several articles in the Tatler and Spectator are from his pen. In 1715 he published an edition of Spenser in six volumes. Hughes received warm praise from Steele, and enjoyed also the friendship of Addison.
CONYERS MIDDLETON (1683-1750) is now chiefly known for an extravagantly eulogistic life of Cicero (1741), in which, as Macaulay observes, he ‘resorted to the most disingenuous shifts, to unpardonable distortions and suppressions of facts. The book is written in a forcible and lively style. A man of considerable learning, Middleton was a violent controversialist, who liked better to attack and to defend than to dwell in the serene atmosphere of literature or of practical divinity. He assailed the famous Richard Bentley with such rancour that he had to apologize and was fined £50 by the Court of King's Bench. Middleton was a doctor of divinity, but his controversial works, while never directly attacking the chief tenets of the religion he professed, lean far more to the side of the Deists than to the orthodox creed, and, indeed, it would not be uncharitable to class him among them. He appears, like Swift, to have chiefly regarded the Christian religion as an institution of service to the stability of the State. Of the Miscellaneous Works which were published after his death in five volumes, the most elaborate and the most provocative of disputation is A Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church through several successive centuries (1749). Middleton was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1734 was elected librarian of the University.
RICHARD SAVAGE (1698-1743), whose fate is one of the most melancholy in the annals of versemen, lives in the admirable though neither impartial nor wholly accurate biography of Dr. Johnson. In 1719 he produced Love in a Veil, a comedy from the Spanish ; and in 1723 his tragedy Sir Thomas Overbury was acted, but with little success. In the same year he published The Bastard, a poem which is said to have driven his mother out of society. The Wanderer, in five cantos, appeared in 1729, and was regarded