Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Granville, George

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
794317Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 22 — Granville, George1890Warwick William Wroth

GRANVILLE or GRENVILLE, GEORGE, Lord Lansdowne (1667–1735), verse-writer and dramatic author, born in 1667, was the second son of Bernard Grenville or Granville, by his wife, Anne, daughter and heiress of Cuthbert Morley of Hornby, Yorkshire. Bernard Grenville or Granville, the second son of Sir Bevil Grenville, the royalist [see Grenville, Sir Bevil, 1596-1643], was intrusted by Monck with the last despatches inviting Charles II to England (Guizot, Monk, Engl. transl., p. 97; G. Granville, Works (1732), i. 481), was M.P. for Liskeard in 1661, groom of the bedchamber to Charles II, and died 14 June 1701. The name was variously spelt ‘Grenville’ and ‘Granville,’ more often the latter. The spelling ‘Greenvil’ is incorrect (Granville, Works, i. 508, note). George Granville was educated in France by Sir William Ellis, a pupil of Busby, and in 1677 entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Before he was twelve he recited some of his own English verses to the Duchess of York on her visit to the university, and for some other youthful verses obtained the praise of Waller. He was admitted to the degree of M.A. in 1679 (Cantabrig. Grad.) He in vain petitioned his father for leave to join the royal forces against Monmouth, and in 1688 (Letter to Bernard Granville, 6 Oct.) being now ‘older by three years,’ and thinking it ‘glorious at any age to die for one's country,’ begged to be presented to James II as a defender of his sacred person. During the reign of William III ‘he is supposed to have lived in litterary retirement’ (Johnson, Life of Granville), addressing amorous verses to ‘Myra’ or ‘Mira’ (Frances Brudenell, countess of Newburgh), and writing his plays, which are as follows:

  1. ‘She Gallants,’ a comedy, first acted at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1696 (also Drury Lane 13 March and 5 April 1746), and published in 1696, 4to, and later editions. Granville (Works, 1732, ii.) revised it and changed the name to ‘Once a Lover and always a Lover.’ Downes says that the play was ‘extraordinary witty and well-acted,’ but offended some ladies ‘who set up for chastity, and it made its exit’ (see Genest, ii. 88, 89).
  2. ‘Heroick Love,’ a tragedy, first acted at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1698 (also Drury Lane 19 March 1712; 21 Oct. 1725; 18 March 1766), and published London 1698, 4to. Downes says ‘the play was well acted and mightily pleased the Court and City’ (Genest, ii. 150). Dryden wrote his verses ‘To Mr. Granville on his excellent tragedy called Heroic Love.’
  3. ‘The Jew of Venice,’ a poor adaptation of Shakespeare's ‘Merchant of Venice’ (for details see Genest, ii. 243-5), first acted at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1701 (afterwards at Drury Lane 3 Feb. 1710, Lincoln's Inn Fields 16 May 1717, Covent Garden 11 Feb. 1735), and published 1701, 4to. The profits of the representation were given to Dryden's son. Granville wrote a short masque called ‘Peleus and Thetis,’ to accompany the play.
  4. ‘The British Enchanters,’ an opera, first acted at the Haymarket 21 Feb. 1706 (afterwards at Haymarket 22 March 1707: Genest, ii. 350), and published 1710, 8vo. According to Granville, Betterton having seen it by chance ‘begg'd it for the stage,’ and it had ‘an uninterrupted run of at least forty days.’ The epilogue was by Addison.

At the accession of Queen Anne (1702) Granville entered public life. In 1702 he became M.P. for Fowey, and about this time his fortune, previously very small, was increased by bequests from his father and his uncle, the Earl of Bath, and (in 1706) by the inheritance of his elder brother, Sir Bevil Granville, governor of Barbados [q. v.] About 1702 he translated the second and third ‘Olynthian Orations,’ with the design (says Johnson) of ‘turning the thunder of Demosthenes upon the head of Lewis [the French king],’ (See ‘Several Orations englished by several hands,’ 1702, 12mo; ‘Several Orations of Demosthenes,’ 1744, 12mo; and Granville's Works, ed. 1732, vol. i). In 1710 he was elected for the borough of Helston and for the county of Cornwall, and chose the latter seat. On 29 Sept, 1710 he succeeded Walpole as secretary of war. On 30 Dec. 1711 he was created a peer of Great Britain with the title of Lord Lansdowne, Baron of Bideford, Devon. Eleven other peers were, at the suggestion of the Earl of Oxford, created at the same time. In 1712 Granville (Lord Lansdowne) was appointed comptroller of the household and a privy councillor. In 1713 he was advanced to be treasurer of the household. At the accession of George I he was out of favour, and on 11 Oct. 1714 was removed from his post of treasurer. He protested against the bill for attainting Ormond and Bolingbroke, and there is some reason to suppose that he was concerned in a scheme for a rising in Cornwall to help the Pretender (A full and authentick Narrative of the ... Invasion, London (T. Roberts, 1715). He was confined in the Tower as a suspected person from 26 Sept. 1715 till 8 Feb. 1717. On the window of his prison he inscribed his name and four lines of verse (Walpole, Roy. and Noble Authors, iv. 155). In 1717 he was restored to his seat in parliament. He now settled at Longleat, then in possession of his wife's family. In 1719 he delivered an animated speech against the repeal of the Bill to prevent Occasional Conformity (see Granville, Works, ed. 1732). In 1722 he went abroad, perhaps on account of diminished means, his expenditure being always lavish, or for political reasons. He lived at Paris for ten years, and there wrote: 1. ‘A Vindication of General Monk’ (against Burnet and Echard). 2. ‘A Vindication [against Clarendon and Echard] of Sir Richard Granville’ {Charles I's general and Lansdowne's ancestor). The ‘Vindications’ were published in Granville's ‘Works,’ 1732, vol. i. They were answered by Oldmixon in ‘Reflexions,’ &c., and defended in Granville's ‘Letter to the Author of Reflexions,’ &c., London, 1732, 4to. In 1732 Granville returned to England, and published a revised and finely printed edition of his complete works (‘The Genuine Works in verse and prose of G. G. Lord Lansdowne,’ 2 vols., London, 1732, 4to; another ed., 3 vols., London, 1736, 12mo). Before this edition there had appeared ‘A Collection of Poems ... by Mr. Granville,’ 1701, 8vo ; ‘A New Miscellany of Original Poems ... by Mr. G.’, 1701, 8vo; and ‘Poems upon several occasions’ (by G. G.), London, 1712, 8vo; 1716, 12mo; 1721, 12mo; 1726, 12mo). Granville's poems have been included in the collection for which Dr. Johnson wrote his ‘Lives,’ and in the collections of T. Bell (vol. lvi.), R. Anderson (vol. vii.), A.Chalmers (vol, xi.), T. Park (selection), and E. Sanford (selection). Pope (Pastorals, ‘Spring,’ l. 46) alludes to ‘Waller's strains, or Granville's moving lays,’ and Granville speaks of ‘Mira herself touch'd with the moving song’ (Works, i. 87). But Granville's poems are anything but moving, and there is little to add to Johnson's criticism (Life of Granville) that ‘he had no ambition above the imitation of Waller, of whom he has copied the faults, and very little more.’ Johnson praises his prologues and epilogues, and considers the ‘British Enchanters’ by ‘far the best of his works.’ Granville was an early patron of Pope. He invited (Granville, Works, i. 437) a friend to his lodgings to meet Wycherley, who would bring with him ‘a young poet newly inspired’—‘his name is Pope, he is not above seventeen or eighteen years of age, and promises miracles.’ Granville commended the ‘Pastorals’ when in manuscript (cf. ‘Spring,’ l. 46). He is said (Spense, quoted in Elwin's Pope, i. 324) to have ‘insisted’ on Pope's publishing ‘Windsor Forest,’ and probably suggested the eulogy of the ‘Peace’ at the end of that poem. Pope dedicated it (1713) to him, and in it spoke of ‘Surrey, the Granville of a former age’ (l. 292; cp. lines 5, 6). Much later in life (1735) Pope (Ep. to Arbuthnot, ll. 135-6) wrote the couplet:

But why then publish? Granville the polite,
And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write.

In 1732 Granville presented a copy of his ‘Works’ to Queen Caroline, by whom he was kindly received; but he took no further part in public affairs, and died in Hanover Square, London, on 30 Jan. 1735. He was buried on 3 Feb. in a vault in the chancel of St. Clement Danes, London. His wife, who had died a few days before him, was buried in the same vault. (For some details see Mrs. Delaney, Autobiog., &c. i. 526-7). His niece, Mary Granville (Mrs. Delany), describes him as polite and good-natured. He is the ‘Alcander’ of her ‘Autobiography’ [cp. Delany, Mary] . Some of Granville's letters to her and to other members of his family have been printed in the ‘Autobiography, &c.’ (see Index, s.v. ‘Lansdowne’). There is a portrait of Granville, engraved ‘from a drawing’ in Walpole's ‘Royal and Noble Authors’ (Park), iv. 154, and one, from a miniature in the possession (1861) of Bernard Granville, is engraved in Mrs. Delany's ‘Autobiography,’ &c., i. 418. Granville married in 1711 Mary, daughter of Edward Villiers, earl of Jersey, widow of Thomas Thynne, who, according to Mrs. Delany, was very handsome and loved admiration. They had four daughters, of whom Anne, the eldest, and Elizabeth, the youngest, died unmarried. Mary, the second daughter (d. 1735), married William Graham of Platten, near Drogheda. Grace, the third (d. 1769), married T. Foley of Whitley (created Baron Foley 1776), and had children. Granville had no male issue, and his title became extinct (see the Granville pedigree prefixed to Mrs. Delany's ‘Autobiography,’ &c., vol. iii. 2nd series).

[Life of Granville in Johnson's Lives of the Poets; Autobiog., &c., of Mrs. Delany, see Index under ‘Lansdowne;’ Memoir in Anderson's Poets, vol. vii.; Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors (Park), iv. 154-60; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Rose's Biog. Dict.; Genest's English Stage; Pope's Works; Granville's Works; Brit. Mus. Cat.; authorities cited in the article.]

W. W.