1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Durant Breval

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 6:503.



JOHN DURANT DE BREVAL, son of FRANCIS DURANT DE BREVAL, D.D. prebendary of Westminster, was educated at Westminster-school, to which he was admitted 1693, and removed thence to Trinity-college, Cambridge, in 1697. He was elected fellow of it about the year 1702; but, upon some disagreement between him and Dr. Bentley, the master, he quitted his fellowship, and went into the army, then in Flanders, as an ensign. The ease with which he acquired the Flemish and German languages, his great knowledge, his exquisite pencil, and genteel behaviour, were soon noticed by the duke of Marlborough; who promoted him to the rank of captain, and also employed him in divers negotiations with several German princes. He began his travels about 1720, published the two first volumes of them in 1723 and 1725, and the third and fourth in 1738, all in folio. It may be matter of surprise to see Mr. Breval's name among the gentlemen of the Dunciad; but, soon after the unsuccessful exhibition of the Three hours after marriage, which, though with only Gay's name to it, was certainly the joint production of Gay, Pope, and Arbuthnot, Breval, under the assumed name of Joseph Gay, produced a farce called The Confederates, and this exposed him to Pope's resentment. He published also in 1734: 1. The History of the house of Nassau, 8vo. 2. The Hoop-petticoat, a poem, 1716. 3. The Art of Dress, an heroi-comical poem, 1717. 4. Mac Dermot, or the Irish Fortune-hunter, 1717. 5. Calpe, or Gibraltar, a poem, 1717; and in the following year produced a comedy called The Play is the Plot, which not succeeding in that shape, he reduced it to a farce called The Strollers, which met with more favour. In 1737 he brought out at Covent-garden, a musical opera called The Rape of Helen. As to what is said above, of his quitting his fellowship, the fact is, that he and a Mr. Miller were expelled. Breval, speaking of the conduct of Dr. Bentley on this occasion, used the remarkable expression of "Tantum non jugulavit."