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J OHN HUGHES, the son of a citizen in London, and of Anne Burgess, of an ancient family in Wiltshire, wes born at Marlborough, July 29, 1677. He was educated at a private school; and though his advances in literature are, in the Biografthia, very ostentatiously displayed, the name of his master is somewhat ungratefully concealed.” At nineteen he drew the plan of a tragedy; and paraphrased, rather too profusely, the ode of Horace which begins “Integer Vitae.” To poetry he added the science of music, in which he seems to have attained considerable skill, together with the practice of design, or rudiments of painting. His studies did not withdraw him wholly from business, nor did business hinder him from study. He had a place in the office of ordnance; and was secretary to soveral commissions for purchasing lands necessary to secure the royal docks at Chatham and Portsmouth; yet found time to acquaint himself with modern languages. In 1697 he published a poem on the Peace of Ryswick ; and in 1699 another piece, called The Court of Meñtune, on the return of king William, which he addressed to Mr. Montague, the general patron of the followers of the muses. The same year he produced a song on the duke of Gloucester’s birthday. He did not confine himself to poetry, but cultivated other kinds of writing with great success; and about this time showed his knowledge of human nature by an Essay on the fleasure of being deceived. In 1702 he published, on the death of king William, a Pindaric ode, called The House of Massau; and wrote another sn 1703 his ode on music was performed at Stationers’ hall; . ad he wrote afterward six cantatas, which were set to music by the greatest master of that time, and seemed intended to oppose or exclude the Italian opera, an exotic and irrational entertainment which has been always combated, and always has prevailed. His reputation was now so far advanced, that the public began to pay reverence to his name ; and he was solicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy, and who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced by such powerful recommendation. * He translated Fontenelle’s Dialogues of the Dead ; and his version was perhaps read at that time, but is now neglected; for by a book not necessary, and owing its reputation wholly to its turn of diction, little notice can be gained but from those who can enjoy the graces of the original. To the dialogues of Fontenelle he added two composed by himself; and, though not only an honest but a pious man, dedicated his work to the earl of Wharton. He judged skilfully enough of his own interest; for Wharton, when he went lord lieutenant to Ireland, offered to take Hughes with him and establish him ; but Hughes, having hopes, or promises, from another man in power, of some provision more suitable to his inclination, declined Wharton's offer, and obtained nothing from the other. He translated the Miser of Moliere, which he never offered to the stage ; and occasionally amused himself with making versions of favourite scenes in other plays. Being now received as a wit among the wits, he paid his contributions to literary undertakings, and assisted both the Tatler, Shectator, and Guardian. In 1712 he translated Vertot's history of the Revolution of Portugal; produced an Ode to the Creator of the World, from the fragments of Orfiheus, and brought upon the stage an opera called Calysiso and Telemachus, intended to show that the English language might be very happily adapted to music. This was impudently opposed by those who were employed in the Italian opera; and, what cannot be told without indignation, the intruders had such interest with the duke of Shrewsbury, then lord chamberlain, who had married an Italian, as to obtain an obstruction of the profits, though not an inhibition of the performance. *
paraphrase on the Otium Divos of Horace. } c * He was educated in a dissenting academy, of which the Rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe was tutor; and was a fellow student there with Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other persons of eminence. In the “Horae Lyrica” of Dr. Watts, is a poem to the memory of Mr. Rowe. H. *
There was at this time a project formed by Tons. translation of the Pharsalia by several hands; and Hughe lished the tenth book. But this design, as must often hal when the concurrence of many is necessary, fell to the groun, and the whole work was afterward performed by Rowe,
His acquaintance with the great writers of his time appears to have been very general; but of his intimacy with Addison there is a remarkable proof. It is told, on good authority, that Cato was finished and played by his persuasion. It had long
wanted the last act, which he was desired by Addison to supply. Af If the request was sincere, it proceeded from an opinion, what."
ever it was, that did not last long; for when Hughes came in a week to show him his first attempt, he found half an act written by Addison himself. | He afterward published the works of Shenser, with his life, a glossary, and a discourse on allegorical poetry; a work for which he was well qualified, as a judge of the beauties of writing, but perhaps wanted an antiquary's knowledge of the obsolete words. He did not much revive the curiosity of the public; for near thirty years elapsed before his edition was reprinted. The same year produced his Ahollo and Dafthne, of which the success was very earnestly promoted by Steele, who, when the rage of party did not misguide him, seems to have been a man of boundless benevolence. Hughes had hitherto suffered the mortifications of a narrow fortune; but in 1717 the lord chancellor Cowper set him at ease, by making him secretary to the commissions of the peace; in which he afterward, by a particular request, desired his successor lord Parker to continue him. He had now affluence ; but such is human life, that he had it when his declining health eould neither allow him long possession nor quick enjoyment. His last work was his tragedy, The Siege of Damascus, after which a siege became a popular title. This play, which still continues on the stage, and of which it is unnecessary to add a private voice to such continuance of approbation, is not acted or printed according to the author's original draught or his settled intention. He had made Phocyas apostatize from his religion; after which the abhorrence of Eudocia would have been reasonable, his misery would have been just, and the horrors of his repentance
The players, however, required that the guilt of Pho.d terminate in desertion to the enemy; and Hughes, g that his relations should lose the benefit of his work, .ed with the alteration. 3 was now weak with a lingering consumption, and not able attend the rehearsal; yet was so vigorous in his faculties that aly ten days before his death he wrote the dedication to his patron lord Cowper. On February 17, 1719-20, the play was represented, and the author died. He lived to hear that it was well ocived ; but paid no regard to the intelligence, being then who mployed in the meditations of a departing christian. VA on his character was undoubtedly regretted; and Steele de “o a y, in the paper called The Theatre, to the memor, , vi or - His life is written in the Biographia with s to e de role of too rable partiality; and an account of him is 1, coxes to is works, oy his relation the late Mr. Duncombe, a to whose blast ess orance deserved the same respect. to character of h, genius I shall transcribe from the corres, ondence of Swift an pe. “A month ago,” says Swift, “were sent me over, by a friend of 1, i.e., the works of John Hughes, esquire. They are in prose ano v. 'se. I never heard of the man in my life, yet I find your na, e as a subscriber. He is too grave a poet for me ; and I think among the mediocrists in prose as well as verse.” To this Pope returns; “To answer your question as to Mr. II, shes; what he wanted in genius, he made up as an honest n.d.; but he was of the class you think him.” In Spence's collection, Pope is made to speak of him with still ies respect, as having no claim to poetical reputation but from . his tragedy. * * This, Dr. Warton asserts, is very unjust censure; and, in a note in "to late edition of Pope’s Works, asks if “the author of such a tragedy as The Siege of Damascus was one of the mediocribus 2 Swift and Pope seem
not to recollect the value and rank of an author who would write such a tragedy.” C.
DUKE OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE,
John SHEFFIELD, descended from along series of illustrious ancestors, was born in 1649, the son of Edmond earl of Mulgrave, who died in 1658. The young lord was put into the hands of a tutor, with whom he was so little satisfied, that he got rid of him in a short time, and at an age not exceeding twelve years, resolved to educate himself. Such a purpose, formed at such an age, and successfully prosecuted, delights, as it is strange, and instructs, as it is real. His literary acquisitions are more wonderful, as those years in which they are commonly made were spent by him in the tumult of a military life or the gaiety of a court. When war was declared against the Dutch, he went, at seventeen, on board the ship in which prince Rupert and the duke of Albemarle sailed, with the command of the fleet; but by contrariety of winds they were restrained from action. His zeal for the king's service was recompensed by the command of one of the independent troops of horse, then raised to protect the coast. Next year he received a summons to parliament, which, as he was then but eighteen years old, the earl of Northumberland censured as at least indecent, and his objection was allowed. He had a quarrel with the earl of Rochester, which he has perhaps too ostentatiously related, as Rochester's surviving sister, the lady Sandwich, is said to have told him with very sharp reproaches. When another Dutch war, 1672, broke out, he went again a volunteer in the ship which the celebrated lord Ossory commanded ; and there made, as he relates, two curious remarks. “I have observed two things, which I dare affirm, though not generally believed. One was, that the wind of a cannon bullet, though flying ever so near, is incapable of doing the least harm ; VOL. I. 55