1780 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Hopkins

John Nichols, in Select Collection of Poems with Notes Biographical and Historical (1780-82) 2:322-23.



Another son of the good bishop of Londonderry; born Jan. 1, 1675. Like his elder brother, his poetry was principally on subjects of Love; like him too, his prospects in life appear to have terminated unfortunately. He published in 1698 The Triumphs of Peace, or the Glories of Nassau; a pindaric poem occasioned by the conclusion of the peace between the Confederacy and France; written at the time of his grace the duke of Ormond's entrance into Dublin. The design of this poem, the author says in his preface, begins, after the method of Pindar, to one great man, and rises to another; first touches the duke, then celebrates the actions of the king, and so returns to the praises of the duke again. — but the principal performance of Mr. J. Hopkins was Amasia, or the Works of the Muses, a collection of poems in three volumes, 1700. Each of these three volumes is divided into three books, and each book is inscribed to some beautiful patroness; amongst whom the duchess of Grafton stands foremost. The last book is inscribed "To the memory of Amasia," whom he addresses throughout these volumes in the character of Sylvius. There is a vein of seriousness, if not of poetry, runs through the whole performance. Many of Ovid's stories are very decently imitated; "most of them," he says, "have been very well performed by may brother, and published some years since; mine were written in another kingdom before I knew of his." In one of his dedications he tells the lady Olimpia Robartes, "Your ladyship's father, the late earl of Radnor, when governor of Ireland, was the kind patron to mine: he raised him to the first steps by which he afterwards ascended to the dignities he bore; to those, which rendered his labours more conspicuous, and set in a more advantageous light those living merits, which now make his memory beloved. These, and yet greater temporal honours, your family heaped on him, by making even me is some sort related and allied to you, by his inter-marriage with your sister the lady Araminta. How imprudent a vanity is it in me to boast a father so meritorious! how may I be ashamed to prove myself his son, by poetry, that only qualification he so much excelled in, but yet esteemed no excellence. I bring but a bad proof of birth, laying my claim in that only thing he would not own. These are, however, Madam, but the products of immaturer years; and riper age may, I hope, bring forth more solid works." — I have never seen any other of his writings; nor have been able to collect any farther particulars of his life, but have a portrait of him under his poetical name of Sylvius.