1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. George Sewell

Anonymous, in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 4:188-91.



This ingenious gentleman was the eldest son of Mr. John Sewel, treasurer, and chapter-clerk of the college of Windsor, in which place our poet was born. He received his education at Eton school, was afterwards sent to the university of Cambridge, and took the degree of bachelor of physic at Peter-house College. He then passed over to Leyden, and studied under the famous Boerhaave, and afterwards returned to London, where for several years he practised as a Physician. He had a strong propension for poetry, and has favoured the world with many performances much applauded. In the year 1719 he introduced upon the stage his tragedy of Sir Walter Raleigh, taken from the historical account of that great man's fate. He was chiefly concerned in writing the fifth volume of the Tatler, and the ninth of the Spectator. He translated, with some other gentlemen, the Metamorphoses of Ovid, with very great success, and rendered the Latin poems of Mr. Addison into English. Dr. Sewel made an attempt, which he had not leisure to execute, of translating Quillet's Callipedia, which was afterwards done by Rowe. He is the author of several miscellaneous poems, of which the following is as accurate an account as we could possibly obtain.

On Conscience, Beauty, the Force of Music, Song of Troilus, &c. dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle.

To his Grace the Duke of Marlborough, upon his going into Germany 1712. This poem begins thus,

Go, mighty prince, and those great nations see,
Which thy victorious arms made free;
View that fam'd column, where thy name's engrav'd,
Shall tell their children who their empire sav'd.
Point out that marble where thy worth is shewn
To every grateful country but thy own.

A Description of the Field of Battle, after Caesar was Conqueror at Pharsalia, from the Seventh Book of Lucan.
The Patriot.
Translations from Lucan, occasioned by the Tragedy of Cato.
The Fifth Elegy of the First Book of Tibullus, translated, and addressed to Delia.
An Apology for Loving a Widow.
The Fifth Psalm Paraphrased.
A Poetical Epistle, written from Hampstead to Mr. Thornhill, upon Mr. Addison's Cato.
An Epistle to Mr. Addison on the Death of the Earl of Hallifax. This poem begins thus,

And shall great Hallifax resign to fate,
And not one bard upon his ashes wait?
Or is with him all inspiration fled,
And lye the muses with their patron dead?
Convince us, Addison, his spirit reigns,
Breathing again in thy immortal strains:
To thee the list'ning world impartial bends,
Since Hallifax and envy now are friends.

Cupid's Proclamation, or a Defence of Women; a Poem from Chaucer.

Dr. Sewel, in his state principles, was inclined to the cause of the Tories, and takes every occasion to combat with the bishop of Salisbury, who had so eminently appeared in the cause of the Whigs.

The following is a list of his prose works, in which there are some letters addressed to, and animadversions upon that eminent prelate's works.

The Clergy, and the Present Ministry defended; being a Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, occasioned by his Lordship's new Preface to his Pastoral Care, 8vo. 1713, third Edition that year. In a fourth Edition (same date) this is called Mr. Sewel's First Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, the Clergy, &c.

A Second Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, upon the Publication of his new Volume of Sermons, wherein his Lordship's Preface concerning the Revolution, and the Case of the Lord Russel are examined, &c. 8vo. 1713.

Remarks upon a Pamphlet entitled Observations upon the State of the Nation 1711-13, third Edition; to which is added a Postscript to the Vindicator of the Earl of Nottingham, 8vo. 1714.

An Introduction to the Life and Writings of G—t Lord Bishop of S—m, &c. being a third Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, 8vo. 1716.

A Vindication of the English Stage, exemplified in the Cato of Mr. Addison. In a Letter to a Nobleman, 8vo. 1716.

Schism destructive of the Government, both in Church and State; being a Defence of the Bill intitled An Act to prevent the Growth of Schism; wherein all the Objections against it, and particularly those in 'Squire Steele's Letter are fully Refuted. Humbly offered to the Consideration of the House of Lords, 8vo. 1714, second Edition.

More News from Salisbury, viz. 1. An Examination of some Parts of the Bishop of Sarum's Sermon and Charge, &c. 8vo. 1714.

The Reasons for writing against the Bishop of Salisbury, 8vo. 1714.

The Life of Mr. John Philips, Author of the Poem on Cyder.

Dr. Sewel died at Hampstead in Middlesex, where, in the latter part of his life, he had practised physic, on the 8th of February 1726, and was buried there. He seems to have been a man of an amiable disposition, and to have possessed a very considerable genius.