1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Oldmixon

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. Aa2v-Aa3.



This Gentleman was descended from an ancient Family of the Name, originally seated at Oldmixon, near Bridgewater, in Somersetshire. — He was a violent Party Writer, and a very severe and malevolent Critic; in the former Light he was a strong Opponent of the Stuart Family, whom he has, on every Occasion, as much as possible endeavoured to blacken, without any regard to that Impartiality which ought ever to be the most essential Characteristic of an Historian. — In the other Character, he was perpetually assailing, with the most apparent Tokens of Envy and Ill-Nature, his several Contemporaries; particularly Messrs. Addison, Eusden, and Pope. — The last of these, however, whom he had attacked in different Letters which he wrote in The Flying Post, and repeatedly reflected on in his Prose Essays on Criticism, and in his Art of Logic and Rhetoric, written in Imitation of Bouhours, has condemned him to an Immortality of Infamy, by giving him a Place in his Dunciad, with some very distinguishing Marks of Eminence among the Devotees of Dulness. For, in the second Book of that severe Poem, where he introduces the Dunces contending for the Prize of Dulness, by diving in the Mud of Fleet-ditch, he represents our Author as mounting the Sides of a Lighter, in order to enable him to take a more efficacious Plunge. — His Words are as follows,

In naked Majesty Oldmixon stands,
And, Milo like, surveys his Arms and Hands;
Then, sighing, thus: "And am I now threescore?
Ah, why, ye Gods! should two and two make four?"
He said, and climb'd a stranded lighter's Height,
Shot to the black Abyss, and plung'd downright.—
The Senior's Judgment all the Crowd admire,
Who, but to sink the deeper, rose the higher.

Mr. Oldmixon, tho' rigid with regard to others, is far from unblameable himself, in the very Particulars concerning which he is so free in his Accusations, and that sometimes even without a strict Adherence to Truth, one remarkable Instance of this Kind it is but Justice to take Notice of, and that is, his having advanced a particular Fact, to charge three eminent Persons with Interpolation in Lord Clarendon's History, which fact was disproved by Dr. Atterbury, the only Survivor of them; and the pretended Interpolation, after a Space of almost ninety Years, produced in his Lordship's own Handwriting; and yet this very Author himself, when employed by Bishop Kennet in publishing the Historians in his Collection, has made no Scruple of perverting Daniel's Chronicle in numberless Places.

What year Mr. Oldmixon was born in, is not mentioned by any of the Writers, nor where he received his Education. — He was, however, undoubtedly a Man of Learning and Abilities; and, exclusive of his strong-biassed Prejudice, and natural Moroseness and Petulance, far from a bad Writer. — He has left behind him three dramatic Pieces, the Titles of which are,

1. Amyntas. Past.

2. Governor of Cyprus. T.

3. Grove. Opera.

He also wrote a Pastoral, called Thyrsis, which forms one Act of Mr. Motteux's Novelty; or Every Act a Play. As he was always a violent Party Writer on the Whig Side, he was at length rewarded with a small Post in the Revenue at Liverpoole, at which Place he died in a very advanced Age, in the Year 1745.