Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/199

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the appearance of another set- of political actors than those to whom the play was said to refer, it lost its only attraction, and sunk with his Eurydice into oblivion, whence neither is likely to be ever called forth. In the following year, Mallet wrote, in conjunction with Thomson, by command of the prince, the masque of " Alfred," in honour of the birth-day of his eldest daughter, the princess Augusta. It was first acted in the gardens of Cliffden, by a set of performers brought from London for the express purpose ; and after Thom- son's death, Mallet revised it for Drury Lane theatre, where it had, with the aid of music and splendid scenery, a run for a short time.

The same year he published his principal prose work, the Life of Lord Bacon, prefixed to a new edition of the works of that illustrious person. In point of style, it may be considered as an elegant and judicious piece of bio- graphy, but nothing more. To develop the vast treasures stored in the mighty intellect of Bacon, was a task to which the best intellects of that and a suc- ceeding age would have failed to do justice. Of Mallet's performance, Dr John- son merely says, that " it is known as appended to Bacon's volumes, but is no longer mentioned."

In 1742, Mallet made a considerable addition to his fortune by marriage. He had already buried one wife, by whom he had several children ; but of her there is little or no account. His second choice was Miss Lucy Estob, the daughter of the earl of Carlisle's steward, with whom he received a portion of 10,000. From his various sources of income, Mallet may be considered as one of the most fortunate worshippers of the Muses in his day, and hence, becoming either indifferent or lazy, he allowed seven years to pass over without favouring the public with any thing from his pen. When at length his Hermit, or Amyntor and Theodora, appeared, critics were much divided in their opinions of its merits. Dr Warton, in his Essay on the Life and Writings of Pope, says it " exhibits a nauseous affectation, expressing every thing pomp- ously and poetically," while Dr Johnson praises it for " copiousness and ele- gance of language, vigour of sentiment, and imagery well adapted to take pos- session of the fancy." Up to this period the character of Mallet stood de- servedly high with the public as an author, but we now come to a part of his history when he drew down upon his head the severe but just censure of all honourable men.

Pope, who honoured Mallet with his friendship at a time when a favourable word from the bard of Twickenham was sufficient to advance, the interests of any genius, however depressed by obscurity, had now introduced Mallet to lord Bolingbroke, at the time when the Patriot King was first written by his lordship. Only seven copies were printed, and given to some particular friends of the author, including Pope, with a positive injunction against publication, Bolingbroke assigning as a reason that the work was not finished in a style sufficiently to his satisfaction before he would consent to let it go forth to the world. Pope obliged his friend Mr Ralph Allen of Prior Park, near Bath, with the loan of his copy, stating to him at the same time the injunction of lord Bolingbroke ; but that gentleman was so delighted with the work, that he pressed Pope to allow him to print a limited impression at his own cost, pro- mising at the same time to observe the strictest caution, and not to permit a single copy to get into the hands of any individual until the consent of the au- thor could be obtained. Under this condition Pope consented, and an edition was printed, packed up, and deposited in a wareroom, of which Pope received the key. There it remained until, by the untimely death of Pope, the transaction came to the knowledge of lord Bolingbroke, who felt or affected to feel, the highest indignation at what he called Pope's breach of faith. Mallet,

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