Imatges de pÓgina


of Fontenelle he added two compofed by himself; and, though not only an honeft but a pious man, dedicated his work to the earl of Wharton. judged fkilfully enough of his own intereft; for Wharton, when he went lord lieutenant to Ireland, offered to take Hughes with him, and establish him; but Hughes, having hopes or promifes, from ano. ther man in power, of fome provifion more fuitable to his inclination, declined Wharton's offer, and obtained nothing from the other.

He tranflated the Mifer of Moliere, which he never offered to the ftage; and occafionally amused himself with making verfions of favourite fcenes in other plays.

Being now received as a wit among the wits, he paid his contributions to literary undertakings, and affifted both the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. In 1712 he tranflated Vertot's History of the Revolution of Portugal; produced an Ode to the Creater of the World, from the Fragments of Orpheus; and brought upon the ftage an opera called Calypfo and Telemachus, intended to fhew that the English language might be very happily adapted to mufick. This was impudently oppofed by those who were employed in the Italian opera; and, what cannot be told without indignation, the intruders had fuch intereft with the duke of Shrewsbury, then lord chamberlain, who had married an Italian, as to obtain an obftruction of the profits, though not an inhibition of the performance.

There was at this time a project formed by Tonfon for a tranflation of the Pharfalia, by feveral hands; and Hughes englished the tenth book. But this defign, as must often happen where the concurrence of many is neceffary, 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 intimacy with Addison there is a remarkable proof. It is told on good authority, that Cato was finished and played by his perfuafion. It had long wanted the laft act, which he was defired by Addison to fupply. If the request was fincere, it proceeded from an opinion, whatever it was, that did not laft long; for when Hughes came in a week to fhew him his first attempt, he found half an act written by Addison himself.

He afterwards published the works of Spenser, with his Life, a Gloffary, and a Difcourfe 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 obfolete words. He did not much revive the cu→ riofity of the publick; for near thirty years elapfed before his edition was reprinted. The fame year produced his Apollo and Daphne, of which the fuccefs was very earnestly promoted by Steele, who, when the rage of party did not mifguide him, feems to have been a man of boundless benevolence.

Hughes had hitherto fuffered the mortifications of a narrow fortune; but in 1717 the lord chancellor Cowper fet him at ease, by making him fecretary to the commiffions of the peace; in which he afterwards, by a particular request, defired his fucceffor lord Parker to continue him. He had now affluence; but fuch is human life, that he had it when his declining health could neither allow him long poffeffion, nor quick enjoyment.


His laft work was his tragedy, The Siege of Damafcus, after which a Siege became a popular title. This play, which ftill continues on the ftage, and of which it is unnecessary to add a private voice to fuch continuance of approbation, is not acted or printed according to the author's original draught, or his fettled intention. He had made Phocyas apoftatize from his religion; after which the abhorrence of Eudocia would have been reasonable, his mitery would have been just, and the horrors of his repentance exemplary. The players, however, required that the guilt of Phocyas should terminate in defertion to the enemy; and Hughes, unwilling that his relations fhould lofe the benefit of his work, complied with the alteration.

He was now weak with a lingering confumption, and not able to attend the rehearsal, yet was fo 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 Chriftian.

A man of his character was undoubtedly regretted; and Steele devoted an effay, in the paper called The Theatre, to the memory of his virtues. His life is written in the Biographia with fome degree of favourable partiality; and an account of him is prefixed to his works, by his relation the late Mr. Duncombe, a man whofe blameless elegance deferved the fame refpect.

The character of his genius I thall transcribe from the correspondence of Swift and Pope. "A month

"A month ago," fays Swift, "was fent me "over, by a friend of mine, the works of John "Hughes, Efquire. They are in profe and verse. "I never heard of the man in my life, yet I find 66 your name as a subscriber. He is too grave a poet for me and I think among the Mediocrifts 66 in profe as well as verfe."



To this Pope returns: "To anfwer your ques "tion as to Mr. Hughes; what he wanted in genius, "he made up as an honest man; but he was of the "clafs you think him."

In Spence's Collections Pope is made to fpeak of him with ftill lefs refpect, as having no claim to poetical reputation but from his tragedy.




JOHN SHEFFIELD, defcended from a long feries of illuftrious anceflors, was born in 1649, the fon of Edmund earl of Mulgrave, who died in 1658. The young lord was put into the hands of a tutor, with whom he was fo little fatisfied, that


he got rid of him in a fhort time, and at an age not exceeding twelve years, refolved to educate himself. Such a purpose, formed at fuch an age, and fuccefsfully profecuted, delights as it is ftrange, and inftructs as it is real.

His literary acquifitions are more wonderful, as thofe 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 feventeen on-board the fhip in which prince Rupert and the duke of Albemarle failed, with the command of the fleet; but by contrariety of winds they were reftrained from action. His zeal for the king's fervice was recompenfed by the command of one of the independent troops of horse, then raised to protect the coaft.

Next year he received a fummons to parliament,. which, as he was then but eighteen years old, the earl of Northumberland cenfured as at least indecent, and his objection was allowed. He had a quarrel with the earl of Rochefter, which he has perhaps too oftentatiously related, as Rochester's furviving fifter, the lady Sandwich, is faid to have told him with very fharp reproaches.

When another Dutch war (1672) broke out, he went again a volunteer in the fhip which the celebrated lord Offory commanded; and there made, as he relates, two curious remarks:

"I have obferved two things, which I dare af"firm, though not generally believed. One was, "that the wind of a cannon bullet, though flying

never so near, is incapable of doing the leaft "harm; and indeed, were it otherwife, no man "above deck would efcape. The other was, that

"a great

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