« PoprzedniaDalej »
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 afterwards, 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 could neither allow him long possession, nor quick enjoyment.
His last work was a 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 froin his religion; after which the abhorrence of Eudocia would have been reasonable, his misery would have been just, and the horrours of his repentance exemplary. The players, however, required, that the guilt of Phocyas should terminate in desertion to the enemy: and Hughes, unwilling that his relations should lose the benefit of his work, complied with the alteration.
He was now weak with a lingering consumption, and not able to attend the rehearsal, yet was so vigorous in his faculties, that only 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 received; but paid no regard to the intelligence, being then wholly employed in the meditations of a departing Christian.
A man of his character was undoubtedly regretted; and Steele devoted an essay, in the paper called The Theatre, to the memory of his virtues. His life is written in the Biographia with some degree of favourable partiality: and an account of him is prefixed to his works by his relation the late Mr. Duncombe, a man whose blameless elegance deserved the same respect.
The character of his genius I shall transcribe from the correspondence of Swift and Pope.
“ A month ago," says Swift, were sent me over, by a friend of mine, the works of John Hughes, esquire. They are in prose and verse. I never heard of the man in my life, yet I find your name 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. Hughes; what he wanted in genius, he made up as an honest man; but he was of the class you think him.”
In Spence's Collection, Pope is made to speak of him with still less 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 his late edition of Pope's Works, asks if “ the author of such a tragedy as The siege of Damascus was one of the mediocribus ? Swift and Pope seem not to recollect the value and ranks of an author who could write such a tragedy.” C.
There may thy bays its shady honours spread, MR. JOHN HUGHES,
And o'er thy urn eternal odours shed;
Immortal as thy fame, and verse, still grow, ON HIS POEM ENTITLED, THE TRIUMPH OF PEACE.
Till those shall cease to live, and Thames to flow. INSPIR'D by what melodious Hughes has sung,
Nature, subdu'd, foretold the great decline, Pll tune a lyre that long has lain unstrung:
And every heart was plung'd in grief, but thine ; Awak'd from drowsy sloth, and soothing rest,
Thy soul, serene, the conflict did maintain, Poetic transports fire my ravish'd breast!
And trac'd the phantom Death in years of pain; What pleasure must retiring Dryden find, Not years of pain thy steady mind alarm'd, To see that art his skilful Muse refin'd,
By judgment strengthen’d, and with virtue arm'd; So much improv'd by those he leaves behind ! Still like thyself, when sinking life ebb'd low, So when a father sees a careful son
Nor rashly dar'd, nor meanly fear'd the blow; Folarge those coffers, which were first his own,
Loose to the world, of every grace possest, With joy to Heaven he lifts his aged eyes,
Greatly resign'd, thou sought'st the stranger, Rest: Blesses his prosperous heir, and calmly dies.
Firm as his fate, so thy own Phocyas dy'd, May all your fortune, like your numbers, shine, While the barb'd arrow trembled in bis side, And smoothly flow, without one rugged line !
Drawn by thy pen, the theory we see; Till we confess the genius is tbe same,
The practic part, too soon! bebeld in thee. That guides your fortune, and poetic name,
Who now shall strike the lyre with skill divine, So when of old some sportive amorous god
Who to harmonious sounds. 2 harmonious numbers Vouchsafd awhile to leave his blest abode,
join! In whatsoever form the guest appear'd,
Who the rapacious tide of vice control, His heavenly lustre shone, and was rever'd.
And, while they charm the sense, reform the soul ! Catherine Hall,
In whom the lovely sister arts unite
With virtue, solid sense, and boundless wit?
Such was the turn of thy exalted mind,
Great ruler of our passions ! who with art
Subdu'd the fierce, and warm'd the frozen beart, MEMORY OF MR. HUGHES,
Bid glory in our breasts with temper beat,
And valour, separate from feverish heat,
Love, in its true, its genuine lustre rise,
Virtue distrest, thy happy lines disclose, In every face a deep distress appears,
With more of triumph than a conqueror knows: Fach eye o’erflows with tributary tears:
Touch'd by thy hand, our stubborn tempers bend, Such was the scene, when, by the gods requir'd,
And flowing tears the well-wrought scene attend, Majestic Homer from the world retir'd:
That silent eloquence thy power approv'd; Such grief the Nine o'er Maro's tomb bestow'd;
The cause so great, 'twas generous to be mov'd. Anu tears like these for Addison late fow'd.
What pleasure can the bursting heart possess, Snatch'd from the Earth, above its trifling praise, Can fame, wealth, honour, titles, joy bestow,
In the last parting, and severe distress? Thee, Hughes, to happier climes thy Fate conveys; And make the labouring breast with transport glow? Fas'd of its load, thy gentle spirit roves Through realms refulgent, and celestial groves;
l'hese gaudy trifles gild our morning bright, The toils of life, the pangs of death are o'er,
But 0 ? how weak their influence on our night! And care, and pain, and sickness, are no more,
Then fame, wealth, honour, titles, vainly bloom,
Nor dart one beam of comfort on the gloom;
'Tis in the just applause that conscious virtue gives: Spring lightly forth, and mark the sacred ground; This blameless pride the dying Hughes possest,
Soften'd his pain, sat lightly on his breast,
And sooth'd his unoffending soul to rest. * Daughter of judge Cowper, afterwards married Free from the bigot's fears, or stoic's pride, to col. Martin Madan, author of the Progress of Calm as our Christian hero liv’d, he dy'd. Petry, &c. and still living, an ornainent to her gax and age.
Another of her compositions is prefixed to the Poems of Mr. Pope, N,
* Opera of Calypso and Telemachusa
WM. COW PLR
As on the utmost verge of life he stood,
Early thy side the mortal shaft receix'd, Ready to plunge, and seize th' immortal good, All, but the wounded hero, saw and griev'd. Collecting all his rays diffus'd, in one,
No sense of smart, no anguish, could control, His last great work with heighten'd lustre shone; Or turn the generous purpose of his soul. There his just sentiments, transferr'd, we view'd! Witness, ye nobler arts, by Heaven design'd But, while our eyes the shining path pursu'd, To charm the senses, and improve the mind, And steep ascent his steady judgment gain'd, How through your mazes, with incessant toil, The shining path, alas! alonc remain'd. He urg'd his way, to reap th' immortal spoil !
So when the Sun to worlds unknown retires, So fabled Orpheus tun'd his potent song, How strong, how boldly shoot his parting tires ! Death's circling shades, and Stygian glooms among. Larger his setting orb our eyes confess,
Of thy great labours this, the last " and chief, Eager we gaze, and the full glory bless;
At once demands our wonder, and our grief;
Wondering we saw disclos'd the ample store, And leaves behind gay tracks of beamy light. Griev'd in that instant, to expect no more. 1720.
So in the evening of some doubtful day,
And his whole glories spreads at once to sight; If for ourselves the tears profusely flow,
Th'«nliven'd world look up with gladsome cheer, Too justly we indulge the tender woe,
Bless the gay scene, nor heed the night so near; Since thou in Virtue's robes wast richly drest, Sudden, the lucent orb drops swiftly down, And of fine arts abundantly possest!
Through western skies, to shine in worlds unknown. But if we rather should congratulate
March 28, 1720. A friend's enlargement and exalted state; Resign'd to Providence, what can we less Than cheerful hail thy long'd-for happiness, Who now, releas'd from every piercing pain, Dost in the realms of light triumphant reign! From thy long languishing, and painful strife, February, 1719-20.
W. DUNCOMBE Of breath and labour drawn, and wasting life,
Accomplish'd spirit! thou at length art free,
While lonely left, and desolate below,
Full grief I feel, and all a brother's woe!
Yet would I linger on a little space,
Before I close my quick-expiring race,
Till I have gather'd up, with grateful prins,
Thy works, thy dear unperishing remains; If there, regardful of the ways of men,
An undecaying monument to stand, Thou seest with pity what thou once hast been,
Rais'd to thy name by thy own skilful hand.
Then let me wing from Earth my willing way, O gentle shade! accept this humble verse, Amidst the meaner honours of thy hearse.
To meet thy soul in blaze of living day, How does thy Phocyas warm Britannia's youth,
Rapt to the skies, like thee, with joyful fight,
An inmate of the Heavens, adopted into light. In arms to glory, and in love to truth! Oh! if the Muse of future aught presage,
30 March, 1720. These seeds shall ripen in the coming age;
Ob. 17 Jan. 1731. Anio Æt. 46. Then youths, renown'd for many a tield well-fought, Shall own the glorious lessons thou hast tanght; Honour's strict laws shall reign in every mind, And every Phocyas his Eudocia find. 0! yet be this the lowest of thy faine,
IMMORTAL Bard! though from the world retird, To form the hero, and instruct the damc;
Still known to Fame, still honour'd, and admir'd! 1 sec the Christian, friend, relation, son,
While till'd with joy, in happier realms you stray, Burn for the glorious course that thou hast run. And dwell in mansions of eternal day; If aught we owe thy pencil, or thy lyre,
While you, conspicuous through the heavenly choir, Of manly strokes, or of superior fire,
With swelling rapture tune the chosen lyre; How must thy Múse be ever own'd divine,
Where echoing angels the glad notes prolong, And in the sacred list unrival'd shine!
Or with attentive silence crown your song;
Offers this humble tribute of her praise.
There, in sweet union, wit and virtue charm,
And noblest sentiments the bosom warm;
The Siege of Damascus.
The brave, the wise, the virtuous, and the fair, Et circum cineres. Parnassia numina lugent.
Through every polish'd piece correctness flows, Te patria exposcit, færundaque criminis ætas.
Sed tibi mors longos nequicquam inviderit annos, Here injur'd Phocyas and Eudocia claim
Dum maneant clart monumenta perennia famæ, A lasting pity, and a lasting fame:
Dircæ usque volet superas suus ales in auras. Thy heroine's softer virtues charm the sight, Spernis trita sonans plectrum?, tenuisque camanæ And fill our souls with ravishing delight.
Haud petis auxilium: terris te plena relictis Exalted love and dauntless courage meet,
Mens rapit iinpavidum, cælique per ardua ducit. To make thy hero's character complete.
Jam procul ex oculis gentes & regna recedunt; This finish'd piece the noblest pens commend, Jam tellus perit, & punctum vix cernitur orbis. And e'en the critics are the poet's friend.
At vos, immensi placidissima luinina mundi, Led on by thee, those flowery paths I view, Sol, Luna, æterno meritas O! pangite laudes For ever lovely, and for ever new,
Auctori Dominoque; suis concussa tremiscat Where all the Graces with joint force engage Sedibus, & magnum agnoscat Natura Parentem, To stem th’impetuous follies of the age:
Dum rates arcana, paruin sententia vulgi Virtue, there deck'd in ever-blooming charms, Ut stet sollicitus, sublimi carinine pandit! With such resistless rays of beauty warms, Qualis verborum pompa ! ut ruit ore profundo That Vice, abash'd, confounded, skulks away, Fervidus, ingenii caleat cum Spiritus ingens ! As night retires at dawn of rosy day.
Nec minor incedis, tragico indignusve cothurno, Struck with his guilt, the hardy atheist dreads Dum tuus Arabicos Phocyas ruit acer in hostes, Approaching Fate, and trembles as he reads: Quis non æquales toto sub pectore flammas Vanquish'd by Reason, yet asham'd to fly, Concipit, & simili laudis fervescit amore! He dares not own a God, nor yet deny:
O qualis lingur divina potentia! quali Convinc'd, though late, forgiveness he implores; Arte trahis faciles aniinos, seu pectora flecti Shrinks from the jaws of Hell, and Heaven adares. Dura jubes, & pulchrie acuis virtutis honore; Hither the wild, the frolic, and the gay,
Sive intus placidos Eudocia concitet ignes; As thoughtless thro' their wanton rounds they stray, Ah nimium, nimium infelix Eudocia! quem non Compell'd by Fame, repair with curious eye, Sors tua sæva movet? madidi vectigal ocelli And their own various forms with wonder spy. Quis neget? infaustos quis non deploret amores? The censor so polite, so kindly true,
O semper damnata pati fata aspera virtus! They see their faults, and sicken at the view. At tibi quis sensus, quæ mens, Eudocia, cum jam Hence trifling Damon ceases to be vain;
Extrahit infixam Phocyas tua flamma sagittam, And Cloe scorns to give her lover pain:
Securus fati, vitamque ex vulnere fundit? Strephon is true, who ne'er was true before; Quis satis ingenium comnis miretur Abudæ? And Celia bids him love, but not adore.
Quam piger ad pænas, miseruinque benignus in Thongh Addison and Steele the honour claim, Exemplar vel Christianis imitabile, inores (hostem! Here to stand foremost on the list of fame;
Digni etiam meliore fide! O quam, nube remotâ Yet still the traces of thy hand we see,
Erroris, tanti eniteant pietatis honores! Some of the brightest thoughts are due to thee. Sed quid ego plura hic laudare nitentia pergam? While then for those illustrious bards we mourn, Tota nitet, pulchro tota ordine fabrica surgit, The Muse shall visit thy distinguish'd urn; Et delectamur passim, passiinque monemur. With copious tears bedew the sacred ground,
E. Coll. Mert.
L. DUNCOMBE. And plant the never-fading bay around.
Oxon. Here through the gloom, aspiring bards, explore
Amabilis juvenis, hujus carminis author, These awful relics, and be vain no more:
Obiit 26 Decem. 1730); anno ætatis 19.
-Nox atra caput tristi circumvolat umbrâ.
MEMORY OF MR. HUGHES.
SPOKEN BY MR, MILWARD, ON THE REVIVAL OF THE
SIEGE OF DAMASCUS, AT THE THCATRE ROYAL IN
DRURY-LANE, 22 MARCH, 1734-5.
Here force and fancy, with united charms,
Mingle the sweets of love with war's alarms.
Our author shows, in eastern pomp array'd, OCCIDIT heu nimium fato sublatus acerbo, The conquering hero, and the constant maid. Mecidit Aonidum decus ille dolorque sororum!
None better knew such noble heights to soar, Quæ te, magne, tuis rapuit sors aspera, vates? 'Though Phædra, and though Cato, charm'd before. Quo fugis, ah! nostras nunquam rediturus in oras! En! tibi ferali crinem cinxêre cupresso,
? Hæc & proxima alludunt ad sublima illa au
thoris nostri poemata, quibus tituli, Hymnus ad • Alluding to the Spectators written by Mr. Hughes. I Creatorem Mundi, & Ecstasis.
PROLOGUE TO THE