1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Carte

William Clarke and Robert Shelton Mackenzie, in The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most eminent Persons who have flourished in Great Britain (1832-34) 3:522-23.



THOMAS CARTE, the son of a clergyman, was born in Warwickshire, on the 23rd of April, 1686. In 1698, he was admitted of University College, Oxford; and after graduating B.A., in 1702, was incorporated of Cambridge, where he proceeded M.A., in 1706. On his return from a continental tour, he took holy orders, and was appointed reader of the Abbey-church, Bath, where, on the 30th of January, 1714, he preached a sermon that gave rise to a controversy between him and Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Chandler, which occasioned his first publication, entitled The Irish Massacre set in a clear light, &c. On the accession of George the First he assumed the lay habit, in consequence of his declining to take the oaths to the house of Hanover; and, during the rebellion of 1715, a warrant was issued for his arrest, which he evaded by retiring to the residence of a friend at Coleshill, in Warwickshire. Becoming afterwards secretary to Bishop Atterbury, his connexion with that prelate subjected him to a charge of high treason; and, on the 13th of August, 1722, a reward of 1,000 was offered for his apprehension. He, however, succeeded in escaping to France, where he remained until 1729, when the intercession of Queen Caroline, procured permission for him to return home. He now engaged in one of his most important literary undertakings, The History of the Life of James, Duke of Ormond, which he completed, in three volumes, in 1736. The success which this work met with (in which Swift is said to have had a hand), encouraged him to commence a general History of England, with a design of counterbalancing the tendency of that published by Rapin. He printed proposals to this effect in 1738, and began his task with ardour, being encouraged in the prosecution of it by very liberal subscriptions, though, for a short time, interrupted by the suspicions of government, who caused him to be arrested under a suspension of the habeas corpus act. The first volume appeared in folio, in 1747, and would have experienced general applause but for the injudicious introduction of a note, containing an account of the cure of one Christopher Lovel, said to be touched for the evil by the Pretender. This attempt to substantiate the right divine of the Stuart family, caused the withdrawal of the city of London's subscription, and created a prejudice against the work, which was never removed. Carte, however, completed three additional volumes; the last of which, bringing the history down to 1654, was published the year after his death, which took place in April, 1754. He wrote some other works, now forgotten, and contributed largely to Mr. Buckley's edition of the History of Thuanus. The following anecdote is told of him: — Walking in a heavy shower of rain, soon after the accession of George the First, he was plied with "A coach, your reverence?" "No, honest friend," was his answer; "this is not a reign for me to ride in a coach." Mr. Carte was married, but does not appear to have had any children.