« הקודםהמשך »
chamberlain, who had married an Italian, as to obtain an obstruction of the profits, though not ani inhibition of the performance.
There was at this time a project formed by Tonson for atranslation of the Pharsalia by several hands; and Hughes englished the tenth book. But this design, as must often happen when the concurrence of many is necessary, fell to the ground; and the whole work was afterwards performed by Rowe.
His acquaintance with the great writers of his time appears to have been very general; but of his inti, macy 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. If the request was sincere, it proceeded from an opinion, whatever it was, that did not last long ; for, when Hughes came in a week to shew him his first attempt, he found half an act written by Addison himself.
He afterwards published the works of Spenser, 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 publick; for near thirty years · elapsed before his edition was reprinted. The same year produced his Apollo and Daphne, 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 beneyolence, VOL. X.
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 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 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 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
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
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 rank of an author who could write such a Tragedy." C.
DUKE OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.
JOHN SHEFFIELD, descended from a long series of illustrious ancestors, was born in 1649, the son of Edmund 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 contráriety 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 never so
near, is incapable of doing the least harm; and “indeed, were it otherwise, no man above deck “would escape. The other was, that a great shot
may be sometimes avoided, even as it flies, by "changing one's ground a little; for, when the • wind sometimes blew away the smoke, it was so “ clear a sun-shiny day, that we could easily perceive “ the bullets (that were half-spent) fall into the wa
ter, and from thence bound up again among us, “which gives sufficient time for making a steportwo
on any side ; though, in so swift a motion, 'tis hard “ to judge well in what line the bullet comes,