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Born at Westminster Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge His
Political Employments Death and Burial in Westminster Abbey Works and Character.
GEORGE STEPNEY, descended from the Stepneys of Prendergast in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster in 1663. Of his father's condition or fortune we have no account. Having received the first part of his education at Westminster, where he passed six years in the college, he went at nineteen to Cambridge,' where he continued a friendship begun at school with Mr. Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax. They came to London together, and are said to have been invited into public life by the Earl of Dorset.2
His qualifications recommended him to many foreign employments, so that his time seems to have been spent in negotiations. In 1692" he was sent envoy to the Elector of Brandenburgh ; in 1693 to the Imperial Court; in 1694 to the Elector of Saxony ; in 1696 to the Electors of Mentz and Cologne, and the Congress at Frankfort; in 1698 a second time to Brandenburgh ; in 1699 to the King of Poland ; in 1701 again to the Emperor; and in 1706 to the States General. In 1697 he was made one of the commissioners of trade. His life was busy, and not long. He died [at Chelsea] in 1707, and is buried in Westminster Abbey, with this epitaph, which Jacob transcribed :
" He was entered of Trinity College, and took his Master's degree in 1689. 2 Johnson had written Duke.
3 Johnson does not mention the date of any poem by Stepney. The first I have seen in point of time, is a translation of the Sth elegy of the 3rd book of Ovid, “Upon the death of Tibullus,' printed in Tonson's first Miscellany, 1684, p. 154, followed by “The Epistle to Charles Montague, Esq., on His Majesty's Voyage to Ireland. By Mr. George Stepney. London: printed for Francis Saunders, &c., 1691,' fol.
H. S. E.
Linguæ, Styli, ac Vitæ Elegantiam,
Plurimas Legationes obiit
Gulielmi & Anna
Haud raro superaverit.
Brevi Temporis Spatio confectum,
On the left hand :
Electus in Collegium
Sancti Trinitatis Cantab. 1682.
Cura commissa est 1697.
Frequentiâ, huc elatus, 1707. It is reported that the juvenile compositions of Stepney made grey authors blush. I know not whether his
poems By Oldisworth. See p. 43.
CHARACTER AS A POET.
such wonders to the present age. One cannot always easily find the reason for which the world has sometimes conspired to squander praise. It is not very unlikely that he wrote very early as well as he ever wrote; and the performances of youth have many favourers, because the authors yet lay no claim to public honours, and are therefore not considered as rivals by the distributors of fame.
He apparently professed himself a poet, and added his name  to those of the other wits in the version of Juvenal ; but he is a very licentious translator, and does not recompense his neglect of the author by beauties of his own. In his original poems, now and then, a happy live may perhaps be found, and now and then a short composition may give pleasure ; but there is, in the whole, little either of the grace of wit, or the vigour of nature.5
The Diplomatic Correspondence of Stepney is now in the British Museum, but does not add anything to our knowledge of his poetic life.