1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Hopkins

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 18:159-60.



JOHN HOPKINS, another son of the bishop of Londonderry, who deviated likewise from his father's character, was born January l, 1675. Like his elder brother, his poetry turned 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." In the same year he published The Victory of Death; or the Fall of Beauty; a visionary Pindaric poem, occasioned by the ever-to-be-deplored death of the right honourable the lady Cutts, 8vo. But the principal performance of J. Hopkins was Amasia, or the works of the Muses, a collection of Poems, 1700, in 3 vols. Each of these little volumes is divided into three books, and each book is inscribed to some beautiful patroness, among 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 my 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 Olympia 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 in 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, the 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 immature years; and riper age, may, I hope, bring forth more solid works." We have never seen any other of his writings: nor have been able to collect any farther particulars of his life: but there is a portrait of him, under his poetical name of Sylvius.