« PreviousContinue »
frenzy for the Pretender as he had shown in his youth for the father. Accordingly he was seized as a suspected person, and on the 26th of September, 1715, was committed prisoner to the Tower, where he continued till the 8th of February, 1717, when he was set free from imprisonment.
In 1719 he made a speech in the house of lords against the practice of occasional conformity, which is printed among his works. In 1722 his lordship withdrew to France, and continued abroad about ten years. At his return in 1732 he published a fine edition of his works in two volumes, quarto. The remaining years of his life were passed in privacy and retirement.
This nobleman died on the 30th of January, 1735, leaving no male issue. Mr Pope, with many other poets of the first eminence, have celebrated Lord Lansdowne, who seems to have been a good-natured agreeable nobleman. The lustre of his station, no doubt, procured him more incense than the force of his genius would otherwise have attracted ; but he appears not to have been destitute of fine parts, Lord Lansdowne likewise wrote a mask called "Peleus and Thetis.' His lordship’s works have been often printed both in quarto and in duodecimo.
BORN A. D. 1671.-DIED A.D. 1736.
THOMAS YALDEN was the sixth son of Mr John Yalden of Sussex, and was born at Exeter in the year 1671. He received the basis of his education at the grammar-school belonging to Magdalene college, Oxford, and was in 1690, at the age of nineteen, admitted a commoner of Magdalene-hall
, under the tuition of Josiah Pullen. In 1691 he was entered of Magdalene college, where he was soon distinguished by an accident, it is said, as fortunate as it was unlooked-for, which has been thus related : “ It was his turn one day to pronounce a declamation; and Dr Hough the president, happening to attend, thought the composition too good to be the speaker's. Some time after, the doctor finding him a little irregularly busy in the library, set him an exercise for punishment; and, that he might not be deceived by any artifice, locked the door : Yalden, as it happened, had been lately reading on the subject given, and produced with little difficulty a composition which so pleased the president, that he told him his former suspicions, and promised to favour him."
Dr Johnson has preserved another account of Yalden, which does not show him in an equally favourable light. - When Namur was taken by King William, Yalden made an ode. There was never any reign more celebrated by the poets than that of William, who had very little regard for song himself, but happened to employ ministers who pleased themselves with the praise of patronage. Of this ode, mention is made in a humorous poem of that time, called • The Oxford Laureate,' in which, after many claims had been made and rejected, Yalden is represented as demanding the laurel, and as being called to his trial, instead of receiving a reward.
• His crime was for being a felon in verse,
And presenting his theft to the king ;
But the last was an impudent thing.
They forgave him the damage and cost :
They had fined him but tenpence at most.' The poet whom he was charged with robbing was Congreve." In 1701 he became fellow of his college ; and in 1702, entering into orders, he was preferred to a living in Warwickshire, and chosen lecturer on moral philosophy. On the accession of Queen Anne, he is said, by the author of “The Biographia,' to have declared himself of the party who had the distinction of high-churchmen. In 1706 he was received into the family of the duke of Beaufort; and in 1707 he took the degree of doctor of divinity. Shortly after this, he resigned his fellowship and office of lecturer, and was preferred to the rectories of Chalton and Cleanville, two adjoining towns and benefices in Hartfordshire, besides which, he held the prebends or sinecures of Deans, Hains, and Pendles, in Devon.
In 1713 he was appointed preacher of Bridewell hospital, on the advancement of Dr Atterbury to the see of Rochester. This situation he retained until his decease, which occurred on the 16th of July, 1736, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.
When the outcry was raised about Atterbury's plot,' Yalden, who was acquainted with the bishop, and more intimately acquainted with Kelly, the bishop's secretary, was suspected and taken into custody. On being examined, the charge urged against him was, “a dangerous correspondence with Kelly:" the correspondence he admitted, but denied its treasonable or dangerous tendency. An order was issued for the seizure of his papers, in which nothing was found which could determine him guilty of the crime imputed to him ; except the two words “ thorough-paced doctrine,” as such were discovered in a pocket-book. Yalden was ordered to explain these words, his examiners considering them of a treasonable character : he said, “they had been in his pocketbook from the time of Queen Anne, and he was ashamed to mention the cause of their having been thus noticed by him.” The fact, however, was, that he had gratified his curiosity by going one day to hear the famous Daniel Burgess; and those words were marked down as a memorandum of Burgess's warning to his congregation ; “to beware of that doctrine which, coming in at one ear, passeth through the head, and goeth out at the other !" Nothing worse appearing against him, he was liberated.
“Of his poems,” Dr Johnson says, many are of that irregular kind, wKich, when he formed his poetical character, were supposed to be Pindaric. Having fixed his attention on Cowley as a model, he has at tempted in some sort to rival him, and has written his “Hymn to Darkness,' evidently as a counterpart to Cowley's 'Hymn to Light,'” to which, however, it is inferior in point of poetical merit, though its imagery may perhaps be equal. By quoting the opening verses of Cowley's hymn the correspondence of Yalden's to it will at once be
“ First-born of Chaos, who so fair did come
Which, when it saw the lovely child,
Thou tide of glory, which no rest dost know,
Thou golden shower of a true Jove,
This hymn seems to be his best performance ; and is for the most part imagined with great vigour, and expressed with great propriety.
BORN A. D. 1650.—DIED A. D. 1736.
This distinguished bibliopole was the son of a barber-surgeon in Holborn. He opened shop as a bookseller in 1678. His means must have been very limited at this period, for, in order to effect the purchase of Dryden's Spanish Friar,' in 1681, he was obliged to get a brother bibliopole to take a share in the transaction. It was the success of this piece, however, and the fortunate purchase he made of the Paradise Lost,' that laid the foundation of his future prosperity and wealth. Dryden's publications proved remarkably successful, and Tonson managed to put a large share of the profits arising from them into his own pocket. Sir Walter Scott, in his life of Dryden, has exhibited some of the correspondence which passed betwixt the worthy bibliopole and the poet, in which Tonson continually appears the shrewd, calculating, penurious tradesman. Speaking of the translations from Ovid which Dryden had executed for Tonson's Miscellany of Poems, the latter hesitates about the payment, alleging that “ he had only 1446 lines for fifty guineas, when he expected to have had at the rate of 1518 lines for forty guineas,” and shrewdly adding that he had “ a better bargain with Juvenal, which is reckoned not so easy to translate as Ovid." Dryden received from Tonson fifty pounds for each book of his translation of the Georgics and the Æneid ; and it is clear that Jacob drove a very good and profitable bargain for them at that price, for Dryden repeatedly complains that he was acting unfairly by him, and occasionally breaks into a downright quarrel with the bibliopole, who, in the end, however, always bends before the storm, and contrives to pacify the incensed bard. One sore ground of disagreement, betwixt the publisher and his author, originated in Tonson's wish to compliment King William. “With this view," says Sir Walter Scott, "the bookseller had an especial care to make the engraver aggravate the nose of Æneas in the plates, into a sufficient resemblance of the hooked promontory o the deliverer's countenance, and, foreseeing Dryden's repugnance to thi favourite plan, he had recourse, it would seem, to more unjustifiable means to further it; for the poet expresses himself as convinced that, through Tonson's means, his correspondence with his sons, then at
1 Simmons, to whom Milton originally sold the copy-right, transferred it to Brabason Aylnier for £25, who resold it, in 1688 and 1690, to Tonson, at a considerable profit.
Rome, was intercepted.” This manæuvre of Tonson's gave rise to the following epigram :
Old Jacob, by deep judgment swayed,
To please the wise beholders,
On young Æneas' shoulders.
To make the parallel hold tack,
Methinks there's little lacking ;
And t'other sent his packing.
“ It was probably," observes Sir Walter, “in the course of these bickerings with his publisher that Dryden, incensed at some refusal of accommodation on the part of Tonson, sent him three well-known, coarse, and forcible lines, descriptive of his personal appearance. • Tell the dog,' said the poet to the messenger, that he who wrote these can write more.' But Tonson, perfectly satisfied with this single triplet, hastened to comply with the author's request, without requiring any further specimen of his poetical powers."
Tonson's • Miscellany of Poems' proved an excellent speculation for himself, however little it did for the contributors. It contains not a little good poetry, but degraded by the admixture of many grossly obscene and indelicate pieces. With the celebrated association, entitled the Kit-cat club, Tonson had the good fortune to have his name very closely associated, during the last twenty years of its existence. It consisted of a number of Whig noblemen and gentlemen, who originally associated, doubtless, for political purposes ; but their ostensible object was the encouragement of literature and the fine arts. In Ned Ward's
Secret History of Clubs,' there is a curious account of the origin of the Kit-cat, which we will here extract for the amusement of our readers :
“ This ingenious society of Apollo's sons, who, for many years, have been the grand monopolizers of those scandalous commodities in this fighting age, viz. wit and poetry, had first the honour to be founded by an amphibious mortal, chief-merchant to the muses, and, in these times of piracie, both bookseller and printer ; who, many years since, conceived a wonderful kindness for one of the greasy fraternity, then living at the end of Bell-court in Gray's Inn lane. This worthy, finding out the knack of humouring his neighbour Jacob's palate, had, by his culinary qualifications, so highly advanced himself in the favour of his good friend, that, through his advice and assistance, he removed out of Gray's Inn lane, to keep a pudding-pie shop near the Fountain tavern in the Strand; encouraged by an assurance that Jacob and his friends would come every week to storm the crusty walls of his mutton-pies, and make a consumption of his custards. About this time, Jacob, who, having wriggled himself into the company of a parcel of poetical young sprigs that had just weaned themselves of their mother-university, and by their prolific parts, and promising endowments, had made themselves the favourites of the late bountiful Mæcenas, who had generously promised to be an indulging father to the rhyming brotherhood, who
had united themselves in friendship, but were as yet unprovided for. So that now, between their youth and the narrowness of their fortunes, being just in the zenith of their poetic fury, Tonson had a fair prospect of feathering his nest by his new profitable chaps, who, having more wit than experience, put but a slender value as yet upon their maidenperformances. Besides, the happy acquaintance of these sons of Parnassus gave him a lucky opportunity of promoting the interest of his beloved engineer, so skilled in the manufacture of cheese-cakes, pies, and custards; so that Tonson, to ingratiate himself with his new set of authors, invited them to a collation of oven-trumpery at bis friend's house, where they were nobly entertained with as curious a batch of pastry-delicacies as ever were seen at the winding-up of a lord-mayor's feast upon the day of his triumph."
“ Jacob wisely observing the good effects of this pastry entertainment, and finding that pies to poets were as agreeable food as ambrosia to the gods, very cunningly proposed their weekly meeting at the same place; and that himself would be obliged to continue the like feast every club-day, provided they would do him the honour to let him have the refusal of all their juvenile productions ; which generous proposal was very readily agreed to by the whole poetic clan ; and the cook's name being Christopherfor brevity called Kit—and his sign being the Cat and Fiddle, they very merrily derived a quaint denomination from puss and her master, and from thence called themselves the Kit-cat club.” We are by no means certain, that, in this account, we have the particulars of the origin of this celebrated club. Mr Chalmers, in the notes to his edition of the Spectator, says: “It was originally formed in Shore lane, about the time of the trial of the bishops, for a little free evening conversation ; but, in Queen Anne's reign, comprehended above forty noblemen and gentlemen of the first rank and quality, merit and fortune, firm friends to the Hanoverian succession." Whatever may have been the actual origin and objects of this celebrated association, it appears that Tonson soon became a most indispensable personage in it. The duke of Somerset, writing to him in June, 1703, says, our club is dissolved till you revive it again, which we are impatient of;" and, in a letter under the date of July, 1703, Vanbrugh assures Tonson, “the Kit-cat will never meet without you, so you see here's a general stagnation for want of you.”
Tonson realized a handsome fortune, and retired from business, about the year 1720, to his estate in Herefordshire, where he died in 1736.
BORN A, D. 1643.—DIED A. D. 1737.
John STRYPE, celebrated for his historical productions, still more so for his vestigial researches, was the son of John Strype, a merchant and silk-throwster. He is said to have been born at Stepney, in November, 1643; but he calls himself a native of London, and his baptism does not occur in the register at Stepney, though the names of some of his brothers and sisters are there entered, and his father lies buried in the church-yard. He received his academic education at