Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 61.djvu/111

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sperous tailor. After attending a school at Hitchin he was apprenticed to a mercer in the city, but, showing little disposition for business, took chambers in the Temple as a law student. He was, however, obliged, apparently for a series of years, to transfer his residence to the neighbouring Fleet prison, having backed a bill which the theatrical manager Charles Fleetwood had failed to meet. From prison Whitehead is said to have put forth his first literary efforts in the shape of political squibs. His first more elaborate production, ‘State Dunces,’ a satire in heroic couplets, was published in 1733. It was inscribed to Pope, the first of whose ‘Imitations of Horace’ dates from the same year, and whose ‘Dunciad’ had appeared in 1728. Pope's rhythm, together with certain other characteristics of his satirical verse, is perhaps as successfully reproduced by Whitehead as by any contemporary writer; but he is altogether lacking in concentration and in anything like seriousness of purpose. The chief ‘State Dunce’ is Walpole (Appius); others are Francis Hare [q. v.], bishop of Chichester, and the whig historian James Ralph [q. v.] The poem, which provoked an answer under the title of ‘A Friendly Epistle,’ was sold to Dodsley for 10l. (Boswell in Life, ed. Birkbeck Hill, i. 124–5, records Johnson's refusal to accept a smaller sum for his ‘London’ in 1738, on the ground that he ‘would not take less than Paul Whitehead,’ and adds an absurd apology for Johnson's ‘prejudice’ against him).

In 1735 Whitehead married Anna, the only daughter of Sir Swinnerton Dyer, bart., of Spains Hall, Essex. By this time he may be concluded to have been out of the Fleet, unless indeed his marriage provided him with the means of quitting it. In 1739 he published ‘Manners,’ the satirical poem so highly thought of by Boswell, but considered by Johnson a ‘poor performance’ (Boswell, Life, v. 116). The manuscript is preserved in British Museum Additional MS. 25277, ff. 117–20. It cannot be said to exhibit any advance upon its predecessor, nor can its clamorous vituperation—

    Shall Pope alone the plenteous harvest have,
    And I not glean one straggling fool or knave?—

be held to be dignified by its pretence of proceeding from a patriot whose hopes are centred in Frederick, prince of Wales. The personalities in this satire led to the author being summoned, with his publisher, before the bar of the House of Lords; but Whitehead absconded [see Dodsley, Robert]. Whether or not the action of the lords had been intended as a warning to Pope, whose two ‘Dialogues,’ 1738 (Epilogue to the Satires), had done their utmost to make the existing political tension unbearable, it at least sufficed to muzzle Whitehead for the moment. He continued, however, to make himself generally useful to the opposition. Thus in 1741 Horace Walpole mentions him as ordering a supper for eight patriots who had tried in vain to beat up a mob on the occasion of Admiral Vernon's birthday (Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 92). His next publication, ‘The Gymnasiad’ (1744), is a harmless mock heroic in three short books or cantos, with ‘Prolegomena’ by Scriblerus Tertius, and ‘Notes Variorum,’ in ridicule of the pugilistic fancy of the day, and dedicated to John Broughton, one of the most celebrated ‘Sons of Hockley and fierce Brickstreet breed.’ In 1747 he published his last would-be political satire, ‘Honour,’ in which Liberty is introduced as prepared to follow Virtue in quitting these shores, unless specially detained by ‘Stanhope’ (Chesterfield). About the same time he is stated to have edited the ‘Apology for the Conduct of Mrs. Teresia Constantia Phillips’ [q. v.], first published in 3 vols. in 1748.

Whitehead had now become a paid hanger-on of the ‘Prince's friends,’ and in the Westminster election of 1749 was engaged to compose advertisements, handbills, and the like for their candidate, Sir George Vandeput. When a supporter of the opposition candidate, Alexander Murray (d. 1777) [q. v.], was sent to Newgate and detained there for a considerable period on the charge of having headed a riot, Whitehead composed a pamphlet on his case, which appealed to the indignation of the people of Great Britain as well as of the electors of Westminster. (See extracts ap. E. Thompson; and cf. Lord Orford's Memoirs of the Reign of George II, ed. Lord Holland, s.d. 28 June 1751). In 1751 the prince died, and in 1755 Whitehead published his ‘Epistle to Dr. Thompson,’ a physician of dissolute habits, who had quarrelled with the treatment adopted by the prince's physicians in his last illness, and whom Whitehead, from whatever motive, strives to justify by indiscriminate abuse of the ‘college.’ A pamphlet published by him in defence of Admiral Byng (1757) is said by Hawkins to be written in a defiant strain, as if an acquittal were certain.

Within these years, or those immediately following, falls the deepest degradation of Whitehead's life. His political intimacy with Sir Francis Dashwood (afterwards Lord Le Despenser) and other politicians, and the facility of his literary talents, made him an acceptable member of the dissipated circle