Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Berkeley, George Monck

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BERKELEY, GEORGE MONCK (1763–1793), miscellaneous writer, son of the Rev. George Berkeley, prebendary of Canterbury, and grandson of Bishop Berkeley, was born on 8 Feb. 1763 at Bray in Berkshire. After receiving some elementary instruction at the King's School, Canterbury, he was sent, at the age of twelve, to Eton. His mother [see Berkeley, Eliza], who, in 1797, after his death, published his 'Poems' for private circulation, tells us that he was exceedingly self-willed. He was endowed with a singularly unselfish disposition, and his precocity was such that he began to publish before he had left Eton. At the age of sixteen his father took him from Eton, and was his tutor for two years, after which he sent him to the university of St. Andrews, where he remained for three years and a half. He was elected at the age of nineteen a corresponding member of the Edinburgh Society of Antiquaries.

On leaving St. Andrews he became a fellow-commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and afterwards he was admitted a student of the Inner Temple. In 1787 he published 'Nina' (a comedy in two acts), which his mother declares that he translated from the French in six hours. His next dramatic attempt, 'Love and Nature,' a musical piece in one act, performed at Dublin theatre in 1789, and published in 1797, was founded on Prior's 'Emma and Henry' (a modernisation of the 'Nut Brown Maid'); it is written in stiff blank verse. In 1789 appeared his 'Literary Relics,' a book of considerable interest and value, containing much original matter. The contents are: (1) An Inquiry into the Life of Dean Swift; (2) Original Letters of Charles II, James II, and the Queen of Bohemia; (3) Correspondence of Swift; (4) Eighty-six Letters of Bishop Berkeley, chiefly addressed to Thomas Prior; (5) Letters of Congreve, Addison, and Steele. Southey, in 'Omniana' (i. 251), says that George Monck Berkeley, had he lived, would have published the manuscript journal of his grandfather's Travels in Italy.' In 1789 Berkeley visited Ireland, and was made LL.B. of Dublin University. While he was staying in Dublin he sought out Richard Brenan (the servant who attended Swift in his last moments), and settled on him a small pension. Falling into weak health he went for the benefit of the sea breezes to Dover. Afterwards he removed to Cheltenham, where he died on 26 Jan. 1793. His mother tells us that he had intended to write a work in defence of the Christian religion. The poems edited by his mother are of very slight interest.

[Poems, with a preface by his mother, 1797; Biographia Dramatica, ed. 1812, i. 35; Gent. Mag. lxvii. 403; Nichols's Literary Illustrations, vi. 698; Bishop Berkeley's Works, ed. Fraser, iv. 356, 359.]

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