1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Huddlestone Wynne

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 32:368-69.



JOHN HUDDLESTONE WYNNE, a man of some original genius, but whose works will not entitle him to any very high rank in literature, was descended from a very respectable family in South Wales, where he was born in 1743. At what time he arrived in London, is not known, but for some time he gained his bread in the printing business, with which he became disgusted, and had interest enough to obtain an appointment in a regiment about to go abroad. Such was the perverseness of his temper while on shipboard with his brother officers, that they refused to associate with him, and actually left him behind when the ship arrived at its first place of destination. From thence he contrived to return to England, where be married a young woman of some property. This was probably soon spent, as about this time he commenced author by profession, but either his works or his employers were of the lowest order, for it was with difficulty be could procure the necessaries of life by his labours. In 1770, however, he began to aim at higher fame, and published A General History of the British Empire in America: including all the countries in North America and the West-Indies ceded by the peace of Paris, 2 vols. 8vo. This as a compilation did him no discredit. In 1771 he published The Prostitute, a Poem; 4to; in 1772 Choice Emblems; natural, historical, fabulous, moral, and divine, for the improvement of youth; in verse and prose, 12mo. The same year appeared his principal work, A general History of Ireland, from the earliest accounts to the present time, 2 vols. 8vo. This was more popular, from the nature of the subject, than his History of America, but far enough removed from the merit that would enrol him among historians. Next year he published Fables of Flowers for the Female Sex, Evelina, a poem; and The Four Seasons, a poem. In poetry he was ill-qualified to excel, although there are passages in some of his pieces that indicate superior talents, had he cultivated them at leisure, and been possessed of a mind better regulated. In 1787 he published a novel called The Child of Chance; and at different periods of his life supplied the magazines and newspapers with essays, poems, &c. generally with his name. All these were written to supply immediate wants, which they did but imperfectly. He died Dec. 2, 1788. It is mentioned to his honour that through a long life of poverty, he abhorred and avoided every mean and dishonest expedient to improve his finances, and was even so extravagant in his notions of independence that to do him an act of kindness unsolicited, was to incur his bitterest reproaches.