« הקודםהמשך »
M M O N D.
OF Mr. H AMMOND, though he be well
remembered as a man esteemed and caressed by the elegant and great, I was at first able to obtain no other memorials than fuch as are supplied by a book called Gibber's Lives of the Poets of which I take this opportunity to testify that it was not written, nor, I believe, ever seen, by either of the Cibbers; but was the work of Robert Shiels, a native of Scotland, a man of very acute understanding, though with little fcholaftick education, who, not long after the publication of his work, died in London of a consumption. His life was virtuous, and his end was pious. . Theophilus Cibber, then a prisoner for debt, -imparted, as I was told, his name for ten guineas. The manufcript of Shiels is now in my puss .
I have since found that Mr. Shiels, though he was no negligent enquirer, has been misled by false accounts ; for he relates that James Hammond, the author of the following Elegies, was the son of a Turkey merchant, and had some office at the prince of Wales's court, till love of a lady, whose name was Dashwood, for a time disordered his understanding. He was unextinguishably amorous, and his mistress inexorably cruel.
Of this narrative, part is true, and part false. He was the second son of Anthony Hammond, a man of note among the wits, poets, and parliamentary orators in the beginning of this century, who was allied to Sir Robert Walpole by marrying his sister.
He was born about 1710, and educated at Westminfter-school; but it does not appear that he was of any university. He was equeriy to the prince of Wales, and seems to have come very early into publick notice, and to have been distinguished by those whose patronage and friendship prejudiced mankind at that time in favour of those on whom they were bestowed; for he was the companion of Cobham, Lyttelton, and Chesterfield. He is said
to have divided his life between pleasure and books ; in his retirement forgetting the town, and in his gaiety losing the student. Of his literary hours all the effects are here exhibited, of which the Elegies were written very early, and the Prologue not long before his death.
In 1741, he was chofen into parliament for Truro in Cornwall, probably one of those who were elected by the Prince's influence; and died next year in June at Stowe, the famous
seat of the lord Cobham. His mistress long ' outlived him, and in 1779 died unmarried. The character, which her lover bequeathed her was, indeed, not likely to attract courtship
The Elegies were published after his death; and while the writer's name was remembered with fondness, they were read with a resolution to admire them. The recommendatory preface of the editor, who was then believed, and is now affirmed by Dr. Maty, to be the earl of Chesterfield, raised strong prejudices in their favour.
But of the prefacer, whoever he was, it may be reasonably suspected that he never read the
poems; for he professes to value them for a very high spécies of excellence, and recommends them as the genuine effusions of the mind, which express a real passion in the language of nature.
But the truth is, these: elegies have neither passion, nature, nor manniers. Where there is fiction, there is no pasfion; he that describes himself as a shepherd, and his Neæra or Delia as a shepherdess, and talks of goats and lambs, feels no paffion. He that courts his mistress with Román ima“. gery deserves to lose-her; for she may with: good reason suspect his sincerity. Hammondi has few sentiments drawn from nature, and few images from modern life. He produces : nothing but frigid pedantry. It would be hard to find in all his productions three stanzas that deserve to be remembered,
Like other lovers, the threatens the lady'; with dying; and what then thall follow?
Wilt thou in tears thy lover's corse attend;
, : Till all around the doleful fames ascend, Then, slowly linking, by degrees expire ?