ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

was a general, as he had forgotten that Bacon was a philosopher.

When the Prince of Wales was driven from the palace, and, setting himself at the head of the oppoftion, kept a separate Court, he endeavoured to encrease his popularity by the patronage of literature, and made Mallet his under-fecretary, with a falary of two hundred pounds a year : Thomson likewise had a penfion ; and they were associated in the composition of the Masque of Alfred, which in its original state was played at Cliefden in 1740; it was afterwards almoft wholly changed by Mallet, and brought upon the stage at Drury-Lane in 1751, but with no great success.

Mallet, in a familiar conversation with Garrick, difcoursing of the diligence which he was then exerting upon the Life of Marlborough, let him know that in the feries of great men, quickly to be exhibited, he should find a nich for the hero of the theatre. Garrick professed to wonder by what artifice he could be introduced ; but Mallet let him know, that, by a dexterous anticipation, he should fix him in a conspicuous place. " Mr. Mallet,” says Garrick, in his gratitude of exultation, “ have you left off to write for the stage ?" Mallet then confeffed that he had a drama in his hands. Garrick promised to act it; and Alfred was produced.

The long retardation of the Life of the duke of Marlborough fhews, with strong conviction, how little confidence can be placed in pofthumous renown. When he died, it was soon determined that his story should be delivered to posterity; and the papers supposed to contain the neceflary information were delivered to the lord Molesworth, who had been his favourite in Flanders. When Molesworth died, the fame papers were

transferred

transferred with the same design to Sir Richard Steele, who in some of his exigences put them in pawn. They then remained with the old dutchess, who in her will affigned the talk to Glover and Mallet, with a reward of a thousand pounds, and a prohibition to insert any verses. Glover rejected, I suppose, with disdain the legacy, and devolved the whole work upon Mallet ; who had from the late duke of Marlborough a pension to promote his industry, and who talked of the difcoveries which he made; but left not, when he died, any historical labours behind him.

While he was in the Prince's service he published Mustapha, with a Prologue by Thomson, not mean, but far inferior to that which he had received from Mallet for Agamemnon. The Epilogue, said to be written by a friend,' was composed in haftę by Mallet, in the place of one promised, which was never given. This tragedy was dedicated to the Prince his master. It was acted at Drury-Lane in 1739, and was well received, but was never revived.

In 1740, he produced, as has been already mentioned, the masque of Alfred, in conjunction with Thomson.

For some time afterwards he lay at rest. After a long interval, his next work was Amyntor and Theodora (1747), a long story in blank verse ; in which it cannot be denied that there is copiousness and elegance of language, vigour of sentiment, and imagery well adapted to take possession of the fancy. But it is blank verse. This he sold to Vaillant for one hundred and twenty pounds. The first sale was not great, and it is now loft in forgetfulness.

Mallet, by address or accident, perhaps by his dependance on the Prince, found his way to Boling.

broke;

broke; a man whose pride and petulance made his kindness difficult to gain, or keep, and whom Mallet was content to court by an act, which, I hope, was unwillingly performed. When it was found that Pope had clandestinely printed an unauthorised number of the pamphlet called The Patriot King, Bolingbroke, in a fit of useless fury, resolved to blast his memory, and employed Mallet (1747) as the executioner of his vengeance. Mallet had not virtue, or had not spirit, to refuse the office; and was rewarded, not long after, with the legacy of lord Bolingbroke's works.

Many of the political pieces had been written during the opposition to Walpole, and given to Franklin, as he supposed, in perpetuity. These, among the rest, were claimed by the will. The question was referred to arbitrators; but, when they decided against Mallet, he refused to yield to the award; and by the help of Millar the bookseller published all that he could find, but with success very much below his expectation.

In 1753, his masque of Britannia was acted at DruryLane, and his tragedy of Elvira in 1763; in which year he was appointed keeper of the book of Entries for fhips in the port of London.

In the beginning of the last war, when the nation was exasperated by ill success, he was employed to turn the publick vengeance upon Byng, and wrote a letter of accufation under the character of a Plain Man. The paper was with great industry circulated and difperfed ; and he, for his seasonable intervention, had a considerable pension bestowed upon him, which he retained to his death,

Towards the end of his life he went with his wife to France; but after a while, finding his health de

clining,

clining, he returned alone to England, and died in April 1765.

He was twice married, and by his first wife had several children. One daughter, who married an

Italian of rank named Cilesia, wrote a tragedy called Almida, which was acted at Drury-Lane. His second wife was the daughter of a nobleman's steward, who had a considerable fortune, which she took care to retain in her own hands.

His stature was diminutive, but he was regularly formed ; his appearance, till he grew corpulent, was agreeable, and he suffered it to want no recomiendation that dress could give it. His conversation was elegant and easy. The rest of his character may, without injury to his memory, sink into silence.

As a writer, he cannot be placed in any high class. There is no species of composition iñ which he was eminent. His Dramas had their day, a short day, and are forgotten: his blank verse seems to my ear the echo of Thomson. His Life of Bacon is known as it is appended to Bacon's volumes, but is no longer mentioned. His works are such as a writer, bustling in the world, shewing himself in publick, and emerging occasionally from time to time into notice, might keep alive by his personal influence; but which, conveying little information, and giving no great pleasure, must foon give way, as the succession of things produces new topicks of conversation, and other modes of amusement.

AKEN

A K E N S I DE.

[ocr errors]

ARK AKENSIDE was born on the ninth of

November, 1721, at Newcastle upon Tyne. His father Mark was a butcher, of the Presbyterian sect; his mother's name was Mary Lumsden. He received the first part of his education at the grammar-school of Newcastle; and was afterwards instructed by Mr. Wilson, who kept a private academy.

At the age of eighteen he was sent to Edinburgh, that he might qualify himself for the office of a difsenting minister, and received some assistance from the fund which the Diffenters employ in educating young men of scanty fortune. But a wider view of the world opened other scenes, and prompted other hopes : he determined to study physic, and repaid that contribution, which, being received for a different purpose, he justly thought it dishonourable to retain.

Whether, when he resolved not to be a diffenting minister, he ceased to be a Diffenter, I know not. He certainly retained an unnecessary and outrageous zeal

« 前へ次へ »