Adnax Publications

18th century notes

Addison : Joseph Addison (1672-1719) was an essayist, poet and playwright. He attended Queen's College, Oxford, where he excelled in the Classics, and became a fellow of Magdelen College. He came to the attention of important members of the then Whig government (Lord Somers and Charles Montagu, Lord Halifax) with the publication of his Lives of the English Poets and his translation of Vergil's Georgics. His political masters settled a pension of £300 a year on him, enabling him to travel on the continent, but his pension was terminated when Queen Anne came to power in 1702, and he returned to England. He was commissioned to write a commemorative poem on the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The poem, The Campaign, was a resounding success, and led to his appointment to various political offices in the years that followed. In 1709, Richard Steele, a friend from his schooldays, persuaded him to begin writing for The Tatler, a daily magazine / newspaper which later transformed into the Spectator, then the Guardian, then reverted once again to the Spectator. Addison contributed some hundreds of essays and articles to these very popular and influential publications. His play Cato (1713) was received with acclamation from both the Whig and Tory parties, and, later in the century, became one of the inspirations for the American War of Independence. He married the dowager Duchess of Warwick in 1716, and died in 1719.

Allen : Ralph Allen (1693-1764) started his working life as a clerk in the Post Office at St Columb Major in Cornwall. By the age of 19 he had risen to the position of Postmaster in Bath. At the age of 27 he took a 7 year contract from the Post Office, and during this period not only made a fortune for himself, but also reformed the Postal Service. He invested some of his profits in stone quarries at Combe Down just as the building boom in Bath began. He then built his mansion, Prior Park, on one of the hills overlooking the town, and set about landscaping his park with the help of Pope and Lancelot (Capability) Brown.

Anne : Queen Anne (1665-1714) was Queen from 1702 to 1714. She was the second daughter of James II, and, as the likelihood of her coming to the throne was remote, she was not trained for the role. She had 17 children, none of whom survived beyond childhood. 

Arbuthnot : John Arbuthnot (1667-1735) was physician to Queen Anne, and wrote both medical and satirical works. His History of John Bull, a collection of pamphlets lobbying for the end of the French wars, was the original for the character of John Bull, the archetypal Englishman. 

Bathurst : Lord Bathurst (1684-1775) was the inspiration behind Cirencester Park, a 3000 acre woodland and pasture park. His estate was intended to reflect the Horatian idyll of rural retirement.

Bentley : Richard Bentley (1662-1742) was a well regarded classical scholar, who became Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1700. His zeal for improvement was not shared by the fellows, however, and from 1710 they persistently tried to have him removed, but without success. He was deprived of his degrees in 1718, but had them restored in 1724. When he was finally brought to trial by the fellows in 1733, the court found against him, and he was sentenced to deprivation, but as the college statutes required that the sentence be executed by the vice-master, and the vice master was his friend, he remained in his post. The hat he always wore to shade his eyes when reading, and his preference for port over claret, are mentioned in Pope’s caricature in the Dunciad.

Berkeley : Charles, Earl of Berkeley (d1710) was appointed one of the Lords Justices of Ireland in 1699.

Brydges : James Brydges, Duke of Chandos (1674-1744), spent lavishly on an imposing house, Canons at Whitchurch near Edgware. Defoe writes in 1725 that there were 120 servants, and that a choir entertained them every day at dinner. The composer Handel spent 2 years there. In the late 1720’s Brydges got into difficulties through speculative investments, at which Swift commented ‘all that he got by fraud he lost by stocks.’ He was succeeded by his second son, Henry, who became famous for buying his second wife from a Newbury ostler.

Chaucer : Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-1400) served at the court of Edward III, and took part in a series of diplomatic missions for that King. He also wrote poetry and verse tales, the best known of which is the Canterbury Tales. 

Cobham : Lord Cobham (1675-1749) inherited Stowe Park in 1697. He extended the house substantially, and enlarged and improved the garden, employing both William Kent and Capability Brown.

Congreve : William Congreve (1670-1729) was a playwright who wrote stylish and witty Restoration comedies. 

Cowley : Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) published his first volume of poetry, Poetical Blossoms, at the age of 15. He was well regarded in his time, but his reputation faded after his death, and has never revived.

Eton : Eton College was founded near Windsor in 1440 by Henry VI. A year later, he founded King’s College Cambridge, which was to be supplied with scholars from Eton. He lavished income from lands on the school, most of which was promptly taken away when he was deposed in 1461. 

Examiner : The Examiner was a Tory periodical started by Viscount Bolingbrooke in 1710. It engaged in controversy with Steele’s Guardian and Addison’s Whig Examiner.

Gay : John Gay (1685-1732) was a poet and dramatist, chiefly known for the Beggar’s Opera (1725), adapted in the 20th century by Bertolt Brecht as the Threpenny Opera.

George I (1660-1727) was King from 1714 to 1727. The 1701 Act of Settlement laid down that after Princess Anne it would be Princess Sophia, the granddaughter of James I and daughter of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, who would succeed to the throne. In the event she deferred to her son George Lewis, whose main interests in life were food, horses and women, and who, when he discovered his wife’s infidelity, had reputedly had her lover hacked to pieces, and then had his body buried under the floorboards of the Herrenhausen palace. His wife he merely forbade from seeing her children, and imprisoned in the Castle of Ahlden for the remaining 32 years of her life.

Harley : Robert Harley, Lord Oxford (1661-1724), was elected to Parliament in 1688. He became Speaker in 1701 and Secretary of State in 1704. He formed part of the Whig government with John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, and Sidney Godolphin, and became a favourite of Queen Anne. Disagreements with his Whig colleagues, however, forced him to resign in 1708, but he re-allied himself with the Tories, and came back to office in 1710 as Lord High Treasurer, following dissatisfaction with the Whig conduct of the war being waged against the French. He was accused of treason in 1714, and imprisoned for 3 years before he was acquitted at his trial after the accession of George I.

Herculaneum was a Roman town near Vesuvius, which was buried when the volcano erupted in 79. It was rediscovered by a man digging a well in 1709, and excavations began there in 1738.

Hobbes : Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was a philosopher who published his work on political philosophy, The Leviathan, in 1651, bringing himself into political and religious disfavour for his materialist views, which ignored the role of the deity.

Homer (8th century BC) is traditionally held to be the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. His poems were constantly used by later poets as a source and inspiration.

Horace : W Horatius Flaccus (65-8BC), was a Roman poet whose satires and odes developed a range of expression in poetry which had not been seen before (and has possibly not been seen since). He was much imitated by later writers.

Johnson : Esther Johnson (1681-1728) : both her parents appear to have been employed by the Temples in some capacity, her mother as companion to Temple’s sister, Lady Giffard.

Johnson2 : Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a critic, biographer, essayist, novelist and poet whose aphorisms became legendary. He also compiled an early dictionary. 

Money scrivener : a person engaged in procuring money to be lent on mortgages and other securities. They also acted as agents for the purchase and sale of land.

Mordaunt : Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth (c1658-1735), invited William of Orange to England to replace James II in 1686. When William came in 1688, Peterborough was rewarded, becoming First Lord of the Treasury and a member of the Privy Council. He lost his preferment in 1697, and was briefly imprisoned in the Tower, for the use of ‘undutiful words’ towards the king.

Ovid : P Ovidius Naso (43BC-18AD), was a Roman poet who wrote extensively about love, seduction, adultery and mythology.

Peterhouse is the oldest college in Cambridge. It was founded by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely, in 1284. 

Pindaric Odes : the Odes of Pindar (bc522BC) were symmetrical, chanted poems with varied and elaborate versification which was regularly and exactly repeated. The Poet Laureate : the first official Poet Laureate was William Davenant, appointed in 1638, though earlier, unofficial appointments had been made. The Laureate was given an income and was generally expected to produce poetry for state occasions, royal birthdays, royal births and so on.

Pope : Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was a poet, essayist, critic and satirist who demonstrated precocious and refined metrical skill, and ‘improved’ both Homer and Shakespeare.

St John : Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbrooke (1678-1751), was a supporter of Harley and the Tory party in parliament, becoming Secretary of State in 1710, and leading negotiations at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. He was dismissed from office on the accession of George I, and was attainted. He fled to France, and became secretary to James the Pretender, but was later pardoned, returning to London in 1725.

St Patrick’s Hospital is still going strong today, boasting itself to be one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in the world.

Scriblerus Club : The Scriblerus Club was formed by Arbuthnot, Gay, Pope, Parnell and Swift with the intention of satirising false tastes in learning. Its influence can be felt particularly in Pope’s The Dunciad and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. 

Spectator : Was a daily publication beginning on 1st March 1711, and running for 555 numbers. Its stated objective was 'to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with bring philosophy out of the closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and coffeehouses.' Though it claimed political impartiality, it was generally seen to support the Whig cause.

Spenser : Edmund Spenser(1552-1599) is best known for his allegorical romance The Faerie Queen

Steele : Richard Steele (1672-1729) was born in Ireland, and raised as a member of the Protestant gentry. He went to school at the Charterhouse, where he met Joseph Addison, followed by Christ Church and Merton College, Oxford. He began a military career, joining the Life Guards, and then the Household Cavalry, achieving the rank of captain within two years, but left the army in 1705. He started the Tatler in 1709, encouraging his school-friend, Joseph Addison, to contribute to the thrice weekly paper. They continued their association until 1714, each producing several hundred articles, and largely influencing public opinion. In 1713 he was elected member of Parliament for Stockbridge, but soon expelled when he issued a pamphlet in favour of the Hanoverian succession. When George I acceded to the throne, he was knighted, and given responsibility for the Drury Lane Theatre. 

Strawberry Hill : Walpole’s extraordinary creation became one of the wonders of London, and he received frequent visitors. In 1763 he wrote : ‘My house is full of people and has been so from the instant I breakfasted, and more are coming—in short I keep an inn: the sign, The Gothic Castle. Since my gallery was finished I have not been in it a quarter of an hour together; my whole time is passed in giving tickets for seeing it and hiding myself while it is seen.’

Swift : Godwin Swift was a member of Gray’s Inn and Attorney General at Tipperary.

Temple : Sir William Temple (1628-1699) was a diplomat, statesman and author, who had settled in Ireland early in his career. He was ambassador at the Hague, and arranged the marriage between Princess Mary and William of Orange (the future William III). He refused the office of Secretary of State in 1681, and retired from public life, but continued to advise the monarch.

Tonson : Jacob Tonson (c1656-1736) and his brother Richard purchased the publication rights for Milton’s Paradise Lost. He was secretary of the Kit Kat Club, founded c1700, and publisher to Dryden, Addison, Steele and Pope, among others.

Tory : the word Tory comes from an Irish word meaning ‘pursuer’, a name given to the dispossessed in Ireland during the 17th century, who lived as outlaws by killing and plundering. In 1679 it was applied as a nickname to those who opposed the exclusion of James II from the succession to the Crown, and from that time it came to denote one of the two main parties in British politics, later the Conservative Party.

Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Elizabeth I, the Corporation of Dublin granting the college the lands of All Hallows monastery.

Vanhomrighe : Esther Vanhomrighe (1690-1723) was the daughter of Bartholomew Vanhomrigh, a Dublin merchant of Dutch origin who had died in 1703, leaving his wife and two daughters a considerable fortune which enabled them to mix in fashionable London society.

Von Schulenberg : Ehrengard Melusina von Schulenberg, The Duchess of Kendal was nearly 60, and George’s passion for her had more or less abated. They spent their evenings cutting out paper patterns with a pair of scissors. She grew rich by taking bribes from those who wanted favours from the King.

Walpole : Horace Walpole (1717-1797) was the youngest son of England’s longest serving Prime Minister, Robert Walpole. In 1747 he bought a house near Twickenham, called Chopped Straw Hall, and turned it into a neo gothic castle, renaming it Strawberry Hill. The house contained an extensive collection of art and also a printing press. He served as an MP from 1741 to 1767, and was the author of The Castle of Otranto (1764), one of the first Gothic novels.

West : Richard West was the son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Whig : The name originated as a derogatory reference to a group of Scottish Covenanters around 1679. The Whig faction became the Liberal Party in the mid nineteenth century.



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