Nahum Tate was born about the middle of the reign of Charles II. in the kingdom of Ireland, and there received his education. He was a man of learning, courteous, and candid, but was thought to possess no great genius, as being deficient in what is its first characteristic, namely, invention. He was made poet laureat to King William, upon the death of Shadwell, and held that place 'till the ascension of King George I. on whom he lived to write the first Birth-Day Ode, which is executed with unusual spirit. Mr. Tate being a man of extreme modesty, was never able to make his fortune, or to raise himself above necessity; he was obliged to have recourse to the patronage of the earl of Dorset, to screen him from the persecution of his creditors. Besides several other poetical performances, which will be afterwards enumerated and a version of the Psalms, in conjunction with Dr. Brady, Mr. Tate has been the author of nine plays, of which the following is the list;
1. Brutus of Alba, a Tragedy; acted at the Duke's Theatre 1678, dedicated to the Earl of Dorset. This play is founded on Virgil's Aeneid, b. iv. and was finished under the name of Dido and Aeneas, but by the advice of some friends, was transformed to the dress it now wears.
2. The Loyal General, a Tragedy; acted at the Duke's Theatre 1680.
3. Richard II. Revived, and altered from Shakespear, under the title of the Sicilian Usurper; a Tragedy, with a Prefatory Epistle, in Vindication of the Author, occasioned by the Prohibition of this Play on the Stage. The scene is in England.
4. The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, or the Fall of Caius Marius Coriolanus; this was printed in 4to. 1682, and dedicated to the Marquis of Worcester; it is founded on Shakespear's Coriolanus.
5. Cuckold's Haven, or an Alderman no Conjuror; a Farce; acted at the Queen's Theatre in the Dorset-Garden 1685. Part of the plot of this piece seems to be taken from Ben. Johnson's Eastward Hoe or the Devil is an Ass.
6. A Duke, and No Duke, a Farce, acted 1684. The plot from Trappolin supposed a Prince.
7. The Island Princess, a Tragi-Comedy; acted at the Theatre-Royal 1687, dedicated to Henry Lord Waldegrave. This is the Island Princess of Fletcher revived, with alterations.
8. Lear King of England, and his Three Daughters, an Historical Play, acted at the Duke's Theatre 1687. It is one of Shakespear's most moving tragedies revived, with alterations.
9. Injured Love, or the Cruel Husband, a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre-Royal 1707.
His other works are chiefly these,
The Second Part of Absalom and Achitophel. Mr. Dryden, author of the first, assisted in this, he being himself pressed to write it, but declined the task, and encouraged Mr. Tate in the performance.
The Rise and Progress of Priestcraft.
Syphilis, or a Poetical History of the French Disease.
In Memory of his Grace the Illustrious duke of Ormond, 1688.
On the Death of the Countess of Dorset.
The Characters of Virtue and Vice described, in the Person of the Wise Man and the Hypocrite; attempted in Verse, from a Treatise of Jos. Hall, Bishop of Exeter.
A Poem upon Tea.
The Triumph, or Warriors Welcome; a Poem on the glorious Success of the last Year, with the Ode for the New Year's Day, 1705.
Thoughts on Human Life.
The Kentish Worthies.
The Monitor, intended for the promoting Religion and Virtue, and suppressing Vice and Immorality; containing forty one Poems on several Subjects; in pursuance of her Majesty's most gracious directions, performed by Mr. Tate, Mr. Smith, and others. This paper was published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, in the years 1712, and 1713.
The Triumph of Peace, a Poem on the Magnificent, Public Entry of his Grace the Duke of Shrewsbury, Ambassador from the Queen of Great Britain to the Most Christian King, and the Magnificent Entry of his Excellency the illustrious Duke D'Aumont, Ambassador from his Most Christian Majesty to the Queen of Great Britain, with the Prospect of the Glorious Procession for a General Thanksgiving at St. Paul's.
The Windsor Muse's Address, presaging the taking of Lisle; presented to her Majesty at the Court's departure from the Castle, September 28, 1708, 4to.
The Muses Memorial of the Right Hon. The Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain, 1713.
Funeral Poems on Queen Mary, Archbishop of Canterbury, &c. 8vo. 1700.
A Poem occasioned by the late Discontents, and Disturbances in the State; with Reflections upon the Rise and Progress of Priestcraft.
An Elegy on the much esteemed, and truly worthy Ralph Marshall, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, &c. fol. 1700.
Comitia Lyrica, sive Carmen Panegyricum, in quo, ad exornandus Magni Godolphini laudes, omnes omnium Odarum modi ab Horatio delegantur (per Ludovicum Maidvellium) Paraphrased in English, fol. 1707.
On the Sacred Memory of our late Sovereign; with a Congratulation to his present Majesty, fol. 1685, second edition.
Mausoleum, a Funeral Poem on our late Gracious Sovereign Queen Mary, of blessed memory.
An Elegy on the most Rev. Father in God, his Grace John, late Archbishop of Canterbury; written in the year 1693.
A Poem in Memory of his Grace the illustrious Duke of Ormond, and of the Right Hon. The Earl of Ossory; written in the year 1688.
An Elegy in Memory of that most excellent Lady, the late Countess of Dorset; written in the year 1691.
A Consolatory Poem to the Right Hon. John Lord Cutts, upon the Death of his most accomplished Lady.
A Poem on the last Promotion of several eminent Persons in Church and State; written in the year 1694, fol. Dedicated in Verse to the Right Hon. Charles Earl of Middlesex, &c. These are all printed under the title of Funeral Poems on her late Majesty of blessed memory, &c. 8vo. 1700.
Miscellanea Sacra; or Poems on Divine and Moral Subjects, collected by Mr. Tate. He also gave the public a great many translations from Ovid, Horace, Juvenal, Virgil.
His song on his Majesty's birth-day has the following stanza,
When Kings that make the public good their care
Advance in dignity and state,
Their rise no envy can create;
Their subjects in the princely grandeur share:
For, like the sun, the higher they ascend,
The father their indulgent beams extend.
Yet long before our royal sun
His destin'd course has run,
We're bless'd to see a glorious heir,
That shall the mighty loss repair;
When he that blazes now shall this low sphere resign
In a sublimer orb eternally to shine.
A Cynthia too, adorn'd with every grace
Of person and of mind;
And happy in a starry race,
Of that auspicious kind,
As joyfully presage,
No want of royal heirs in any future age.
Honour'd with the best of Kings,
And a set of lovely springs,
From the royal fountain flowing,
Lovely streams, and ever growing,
Happy Britain past expressing,
Only learn to prize thy blessing.
We shall give some further account of the translation of the Psalms in the life of Dr. Brady. This author died in the Mint 1716, was interred in St. George's church, Southwark, and was succeeded in the laurel by Mr. Eusden.