Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sterling, James

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STERLING, JAMES (fl. 1718–1755), playwright, a native of Ireland, son of James Sterling, entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a scholar in 1718, and graduated B.A. in 1720 and M.A. in 1733. In that year he came to London with his friend Matthew Concanen [q. v.], and it is stated that on their arrival, having come to the conclusion that political writing alone would prove remunerative, they settled by the toss of a halfpenny that Concanen should defend and Sterling abuse the ministry. Sterling caused to be printed in London his weak tragedy ‘The Rival Generals, as it was acted at the Theatre Royal, Dublin’ (five acts, verse, London, 8vo and 12mo), but he failed to get it accepted by a London manager. In 1724 he made three contributions to Concanen's ‘Poems,’ signed ‘J. S.’ In 1728 he issued a version of ‘The Loves of Hero and Leander’ from the Greek of Musæus, and this was reissued with a few minor pieces as ‘Poetical Works of the Rev. James Sterling’ (Dublin, 1734, 8vo); and in 1736 he published ‘The Parricide: a tragedy’ (London, 8vo, five acts, verse). This wretched production was given five times at Goodman's Fields in December 1735. Sterling's work as a journalist and pamphleteer seems to have likewise proved a failure, and about 1740 he migrated to Maryland, where he settled as a preacher in Kent County. One of his sermons on ‘Zeal against the enemies of our country’ was printed at the Annapolis press in 1755, small 4to.

[Cibber's Lives of the Poets, v. 27; Trinity College (Dublin) Register; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, p. 236; Baker's Biogr. Dram. 1812, i. 687; Genest's Hist. of the Stage, iii. 484; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ix. 23, 195, 286.]

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