1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hawkesworth

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:316-17.



This gentleman was born in the year 1716. Early in life he was clerk to an attorney. He was likewise of the sect of Presbyterians, and a member of the celebrated Tom Bradbury's meeting, from which he was expelled for some irregularities. He afterwards devoted his attention to literature, and became an author of considerable eminence. In 1746, 7, 8, and 9, he was a poetical contributor to The Gentleman's Magazine, under the fictitious name of Greville. We must also mention his translation of Telemachus, 4to. and his novel of Almoran and Hamet. He likewise distinguished himself under the title of The Adventurer. His degree of LL.D. was given him, honoris gratia, by Archbishop Herring. He would have practised in the commons; but that was opposed by the university doctors. The story of his Almoran and Hamet has been brought on the stage by Mr. Pratt, in his Fair Circassian. Dr. H. originally wrote it in 1756, as a drama in three acts; which Mr. Garrick would have brought on the stage, had he not been afraid of the expense of decorations, transformations, &c. having just lost 4000 by The Chinese Festival. In the early part of his life, Hawkesworth's circumstances were rather confined. He resided some time at Bromley, in Kent, where his wife kept a boarding-school, which they relinquished in order to accommodate two women of fortune who came to reside with them. He afterwards became known to a lady who had great property and interest in the East India company, and through her means was chosen a director of that body. When the design of compiling a narrative of the discoveries in the South Seas was suggested, he was recommended as a proper person to be employed on the occasion. This task he executed, and is said to have received for it the enormous sum of 6000. His work, however, though written with elegance, whether through want of accuracy in the narrative, or from some notions which were propagated in it of an heterodox cast, or on account of particular occurrences too luxuriantly described, did not afford that complete satisfaction which was expected from it. In consequence of his situation as an East India director, and of his connexion with the Admiralty while writing the above work, it has been suggested that he injured his health by too freely indulging the pleasures of the table, which brought on a fever, of which he died at a friend's house in Lime Street, Nov. 17, 1773.