1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Moses Mendez

Anonymous, "Memoir of Moses Mendez" European Magazine 22 (October 1792) 251-52.



This elegant Poet and polite Scholar, whose works have hardly obtained the celebrity they deserve, and whose poetical reputation has been much inferior to his merit, appears to have inrolled himself in the class of Authors with no other views than those of fame and amusement. Born to affluence, he passed through life in the undisturbed calm of domestic life, with little variety and no adventures, much respected in the world; and universally beloved in the circle of his friends.

He was of Jewish extraction, and born, if we are rightly informed, in the City of London. His education was liberal, and he associated with those whose notice was sufficient to confer honour. By some letters which have appeared in print, we find the amiable Thomson lived in terms of the most unreserved intimacy with Mr. Mendez's family, on one of whom he wrote some complimentary verses, which have not yet been collected into his works; and after Thomson's death, he was remembered by our Author in the following manner:

Ere yet I sing the round revolving year,
And shew the toils and pastime of the swain,
At Alcon's grave I drop the pious tear;
Right well he knew to raise the learned strain,
And, like his Milton, scorn'd the rhyming chain.
Ah! cruel fate, to tear him from our eyes;
Receive the wreath, albe the tribute's vain!
From the green sod may flowers immortal rise,
To mark the sacred spot where the sweet Poet lies!

Of Mr. Mendez's works the following is the completest list we have been able to obtain: 1. The Double Disappointment, a Ballad Opera, acted at Drury-lane 18th March, 1746, for the benefit of Mr. Giffard. 2. The Chaplet, a Musical Entertainment, set to music by Dr. Boyce, acted at Drury-lane 2d December 1749. 3. Robin Hood, a Musical Entertainment, set to music by Dr. Burney, and acted at Drury-lane 13th December 1750. 4. The Shepherd's Lottery, a Musical Entertainment, set to music by Dr. Boyce, acted at Drury-lane 19th November 1751. 5. Henry and Blanc; or, The Revengeful Marriage. A Tale. Taken from the French of Gil Blas, 4to. 1745. This is the same story as that of Tancred and Sigismunda, on which Mr. Thomson the same year produced a Tragedy at Drury-lane. 6. The Seasons. A Poem, in imitation of Spenser, folio, 1751, since republished in Pearch's Collection of Poems. 7. The Battiad. Two Cantos, folio, 1751. Reprinted in Dilly's Repository. 8. The Squire of Dames. A Poem, in imitation of Spenser. Printed in Dodsley's Collection of Poems, Vol. IV. 9. A Translation of Maphaeus, and a few other Pieces, in a Collection of Poems, published by Richardson and Urquhart, 8vo. 1767.

On the 19th of June 1750, Mr. Mendez was created M.A. by the University of Oxford; and we have been informed, that he once meditated to become an Advocate in Doctors Commons. This plan, however, never took place: nor could there be any sufficient motive for his engaging such a scheme of life, as he possessed great affluence, being at the time of his death, 4th February 1758, supposed to be worth not less than one hundred thousand pounds; a sum, we presume, no Poet ever before could boast of.

From his Epistle to Mr. Ellis, printed in our Magazine for February last, we may form some judgment of the turn of mind of the Author; and from an Imitation of Spenser, entitled The Blatant Beast, in Two Cantos, which will be inserted in our two succeeding Magazines, our readers will be furnished with an excellent specimen of his poetical powers.