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tronage of Sir Edward Walpole, was appointed a Clerk in the Annuity Pell-office; and died young.
There is no Portrait, it is believed, preserved of Mr. Theobald ; but this desideratum the late Mr. George Steevens of very ingeniously contrived to supply, by the invention of a fancied one, or perhaps even by a fortunate conjecture, to complete the series
September 18, 1744, about 10 A. M. died Mr. Lewis Theobald, well kuown in the polite part of the town for his Edition of Shakespeare, and several other poetical pieces, as Poems, Translations, Tragedies, &c. He had laboured under a jaundice for some months, which, after several changes of amendment and relapses, terminated in a dropsy; which, about two days after liis being tapped, carried him off. His death was very remarkable, not only in that he went off quietly without agonies, but also that he was so composed as not to alter the disposition of his body, being in an easy indolent posture, one foot out of bed, and his head gently supported by one hand. He was a man well versed in the learned languages, and tolerably well acquainted with the modern. How great a Philologist he was, his notes upon, and emendation of, Shakespeare will inform Posterity. He was of a generous spirit, too generous for his circumstances; and none knew how to do a handsome thing, or confer a benefit, when in his power, with a better grace than himself. He was my antient friend of near 30 years acquaintance. Interred at Pancras the 20th, 6 o'clock P. M. I only attended him."
+ “A Portrait," Mr. Steevens observes, “ of this useful Critick, is among the desiderata of those Gentlemen who cultivate the fermes ornées of Literature, and embellish the Plays of Shakespeare with a series of characteristic Prints, engraved and published by the ingenious Mr. S.Harding, of Pall Mall.–An acknowle Iged Painting, however, of Mr. Theobald has hitherto escaped research. His Son, indeed, has been heard to say, that no resemblance of him had been preserved. This deficiency may therefore prove a lasting one, unless conjecture, fortified by coincidence, be allowed to fill a vacant Picture-frame in our Gallery of Editors. Where the appropriate drug is wanting, the most scrupulous Physicians will not refuse to employ a succedaneum ; and I have been told of a Peer, in whose Library all the lost Authors of Greece and Rome have their representatives in wood backed with leather.-The necessities of Mr. Theobald (who was a prolific Dramatist, and yet always poor) are sufficiently understood from Advertisements issued out by himself, at different periods, in the Newspapers, soliciting his friends, in consequence of his misfortunes, to take tickets for his benefit. His last Address to the Publick was delivered in a most humble strain of supplication, and appeared in the London Daily Post, May 13, 1741. It is dated from Wyman's (or Wyan's)-court,
of Shakesperian Commentators, published by Mr. Samuel Harding and Mr. William Richardson, in their “ Illustrations” of the great Dramatic Bard.
The industry and the literary talents of Theobald are evidently proved by.the preceding correspondence with his learned Friend Mr. Warburton. Great Russel-street, Bloomsbury; but this place having been since built over, it is impossible to ascertain the precise situation of
the Egerian grot, Where, nobly pensive, Theobald sat and thought ;' where he sometimes collated his wishes for a good dinner with his slender means to procure it, while his wife was employed in restoring a lost button to his breeches, or producing a neat emendation in his worsted stockings.
But a few years before, the inimitable Hogarth, who peopled his scenes with real as well as fictitious personages, had produced his celebrated Print, entitled, “ The Distressed Poet;" and in it the following circumstances indicative of Mr. Theobald (at least more immediately applicable to him than any other person) could not fail to have attracted notice. To the first impressions of this plate, the annexed passage from The Dunciad is subjoined as a niotto:
• Studious he sat, with all his books around,
And writ, and founder'd on in mere despair.' And it is well known, that these lines, though since applied to Cibber, were originally part of Mr. Pope's very severe and exag. gerated description of Theobald.–Our unfortunate Bard (I continue my reference to the first impressions from the Plate) is likewise engaged in writing a Poem, entitled · Poverty.' Now, it is remarkable, that one of the earliest of Mr. Theobald's productions was · The Cave of Poverty, a Poem.'
“ Over the head of the Distressed Poet (in the first impressions also) is stuck up a representation of Mr. Pope in the act of beating Curll the Bookseller, who had offended him not only by the publication of his Letters, but by personal abuse. This occurrence, therefore, might have been introduced as an admonition to Theobald, who had persisted in taking equal liberties with the Translator of Homer *. it is obvious also, that the instrument
*“When Hogarth re-published this Plate in 1740, he effaced the lines already quoted, converted the “ Triumphs of Pope' into the 'Gold Mines of Peru,' and the 'Poem on Poverty' into an Eulogium on Ricbes. [See the Anecdotes of Hogarth,' 410, vol. II. p. 144 ] Why these changes should have been made, I cannot easily guess, unless the circumstances already pointed out were considered as persunal reflections, and as such were resented by our Hero, whose second Edition of Shakespeare, in that very year, had confirmed his victory over Pope as a Commentator. The known distress of poor Theobald might, indeed, have proved his best advocate on this occasion, and inclined Hogarth to obliterate the chiefly offensive traits be bad introduced in his representation of an indigent rhymer. W. R."
But it was not with that eminent Divine only that he was honoured by a liberal intimacy: Dr. Thirlby, Dr. John Freind, Martin Folkes, esq. Dr. Mead, Mr. Jortin, Dr. Birch, Mr. Nicholas Hardinge, Mr. Hawley Bishop, Mr. Coxeter, Mr. Roome, and many others, distinguished him by their friendly notice * and correspondence. of Mr. Pope's retaliation on our Hero, the Grub-street Journal, appears on the floor of the Distressed Poet's aërial citadel. Hogarth, though at that time a powerful Satirist, had not yet attained the summit of his reputation, and consequently might have thonght it no impolitic measure, to join the interests of the Inquisitor-general of the day; a practice familiar enough to other Wits, riz. Bramston, Mallet, &c. who were always ready to adop! the enmities of Pope, and return a servile echo to his invectives against Cibber, Theobald, and other objects of his poetical resentment.
“ But, not to dwell too long on such inferences, a degree of respect is always due to conjecture, where no certainty can be obtained. Till, therefore, what I am now offering to the pubJick as a probable resemblance of Mr. Theobald, can be displaced by an indisputable and authentic Portrait of him t, let me hope that a copy from Hogarth may be allowed to fill a place in the train of Shakesperian Satellites. Such a plea, perhaps, will not be charged with presumption by those who reflect how often they hare admitted heads of exalted rank, on authority less decisive than is here brought forward to identify an humble Portrait. At the same time, let me avow my belief that many of our modern Collectors (to whose liberality of conduct I am bound in gratitude to express my sincerest obligations) will not merely confess that they have now and then submitted to receive ideal likenesses, but will voluntarily add, like Falstaff
, that they are happy in entertaining a number of such shadows to fill up their musterbooks; and had rather enlist a Recruit of questionable pretensions, than, by discharging him, create a vacancy in the Regiment they are ambitious to complete. W. RICHARDSON.”
* In 1731, Theobald was an associate with Pearce, Masson, Dr. Taylor, Wasse, Dr. Robinson, Upton, Thirlby, and others, in the “ Miscellaneous Observations upon Authors, Antient and Modern," under the superintendance of Mr. Jortin.
+ “But a few years ago, a Plate by Vandergucht, exhibiting an unpublished Portrait of the famous John Dennis, was discovered. It may be supposed, that in the year 1718, he had agreed for this Plate as a fashionable adjunct to his works in two volumes octavo; but that, being unable to pay for it, it was withbeld, and by mere accident escaped from being hammered out, or otherwise disposed of as a piece of antiquated copper. It is not, therefore, impossible that some head of Mr. Theobald, which had been engraved and suppressed for similar reasons, may hereafter be found, and instead of overthrowing my conjecture, may only serve to confirun it. W.R."
With the character of Mr. Theobald in private life I am wholly unacqnainted; but, as nothing has been alledged against bim except his controversy with Mestayer *, which occurred many years before the establishment of the Concanen Club, and his sarcasms on Pope, it is fair to presume little could be said against him-Requiescat in pace.
ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF THE DUNCIAD. This admirable but cruel Satire has been so tortured and twisted in its various Editions, that some slight investigation of the changes may be acceptablet.
In 1726, and again in 1727, the celebrated Dean of St. Patrick's spent some months, in and near Lon
* See p. 709.
† “ The object of this celebrated Satire was, to crush all his adversaries in a mass, by one strong and decisive blow. His own account of this attempt is very minutely related by Pope himself, in a Dedication which he wrote to Lord Middlesex, under the name of Savage the Poet, who assisted Pope in finding out many particulars of these adversaries. If we may credit this narrative, Pope contemplated his victory over the Dunces with great exul. tation; and such, says Dr. Johnson, was his delight in the tumult he had raised, that for a while his natural sensibility was suspended, and he read reproaches and invectives without emotion, considering them only as the necessary effects of that pain which he rejoiced in having given. He would not however have long indulged this reflection, if all the persons he classed among the Dunces haul possessed the spirit which animated some of them. Ducket demanded and obtained satisfaction for a scandalous imputation on his moral character; and Aaron Hill expostulated with Pope in a nanner so much superior to all mean solicitation, that Pope' was reduced to sneak and shufile, sometimes to deny, and sometimes to apologize : he first endeavours to wound, and is then afraid to own that he meant a blow: There are likewise some names introduced in this poem with disa respect which could receive no injury from such an attack. His placing the learned Bentley among Dances, could have occurred to Pope only in the moment of his maddest revenge: Bentley had spoken truth of the Translation of the Iliad: he said it was a fine Poem, but not Homer.' This, which has ever since been the opinion of the learned world, was not to be refuted by the contemptuous lines in which Bentley is mentioned in The Dunciad.
don, in a fruitless expectation of preferment; and it was at those periods that he and Mr. Pope “ determined, to own the most trifling pieces in which they had any band, and to destroy all that remained in their power.” The result was, the publication in 1727 of three volumes of " Miscellanies in Prose and Verse," of which Swift participated in the credit, but the profit was wholly Pope's.
The first visit of the Dean found his Friend indignant at the liberties wbich Theobald, in his Shakespeare Restored, had taken with Pope's Edition of the great Dramatic Poet; and Theobald was consequently honoured with a niche in the “ Treatise on the Bathos * ;" which, though principally the production of Dr. Arbuthnot, first drew upon the head of Pope the indignation of " a nest of hornets." On the other hand, the real Dunces, who are the majority in this Poem, were beneath the notice of a man who now enjoyed higher fame than any poetical contemporary, and greater popularity, and greater favour with men of rank. But it appears to have been Pope's opinion that insignificance should be no protection, that even neutrality should not be safe, and that whoever did not worship the Deity he has set up should be punished. Accordingly we find in this Poem contemptuous allusions to persons who had given no open provocation, and were nowise concerned in the Author's literary contests. The Dunciad indeed seems intended as a general receptacle for all his resentments, just or unjust; and we find that in subsequent editions he altered, arranged, or added to his stock, as he found, or thought he found occasion; and the Hero of The Dunciad, who was at first Theobald, became at last Cibber." Chalmers's Biogrphical Dictionary, vol. XXV. p. 170.
*“In which was a chapter (as we are told by Mr. Pope himself, under the name of Mr. Savage, who dedicated it to the Earl of Middlesex) where the species of bad writers were ranged in classes, and initial letters of names prefixed, for the most part at random. But such was the number of Poets eminent in that art, that some one or other took every Letter to himself. All fell into so violent a fury, that for half a year, or more, the common Newspapers (in most of which they had some property, as being hired Writers) were filled with the most abusive falsehoods and scurrilities they could possibly devise ; a liberty no ways to be wondered at in those people, and in those papers, that for many years, during the uncontrouled Licence of the Press, had aspersed almost all the great characters of the age; and this with impu