1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gilbert West

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:741-42.



This excellent writer and worthy man was son of the Rev. Dr. West, by a sister of Lord Cobham. He was born in 1706, educated at Winchester and Eton schools, from the latter of which he removed to the university of Oxford, where he became one of the students of Christ-church College. Being of a studious and grave turn, he was inclined to go into the church; but was persuaded to abandon that pursuit by his uncle Lord Cobham, who gave him a coronetcy in his own regiment, exempting him at the same time from country quarters, &c. This profession he soon quitted, a prospect of advancing himself being presented to him of a nature more agreeable to his wishes. A number of young gentlemen were to be elected from the universities, and at the expense of Government taught foreign languages, and then sent out to be initiated into business, and trained there for public service, as envoys, ambassadors, &c. On this plan being adopted, Mr. West was one of those fixed upon; and, on his first introduction into the office, was treated with great kindness by Lord Townsend, who expressed the strongest inclination to serve him; but his uncle, Lord Cobham, being a strenuous opposer of Government, he soon found that he should stand no chance of preferment. He therefore quitted the office, and at the same time all views of making his fortune; being dissuaded by his uncle from going to the Temple, where he had been entered with a design of studying the law, as the last resource after his disappointments.

Soon after he married the daughter of Mr. Bartlett, and retired to Wickham in Kent, where he lived a tranquil, domestic life, universally esteemed and loved by his friends, who frequently visited him in his retreat. Among those with whom he was most intimate, was the great Earl of Chatham. This gentleman, on a vacancy which happened whilst he was paymaster, appointed Mr. West treasurer of Chelsea Hospital, a place in his gift. He had in May 1729, in consequence of a school-friendship with one of the Duke of Devonshire's sons, been nominated a clerk extraordinary of the privy-council; but received no advantage from his appointment until April 1752, when, by right of succession, he filled the vacancy made by the decease of one of the clerks in ordinary.

In the year 1747 he published a very learned and valuable work on the subject of the Resurrection; in which, with great ability, he refuted the objections and cavils of some infidel writers. As a testimony of the favourable opinion which was entertained of this performance, the university of Oxford created him a doctor of laws by diploma, March 39, 1748. About the year 1755 he lost his son at the age of twenty years, and did not long survive him. He died on the 26th day of March 1756.

His works bear testimony of his worth and learning, and the sentiments of his friend sufficiently show the virtues of his heart. Besides his book on the Resurrection, already mentioned, he translated Pindar, and also published several poetical performances, among which are the following dramas: 1. The Institution of the Order of the Garter. D. P. 4to. 1742. 2. Iphigenia in Taurus. T. 3. The Triumphs of the Gout. Mock Trag. The two last were printed in 4to. 1749, with the translation of Pindar.