1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Davies

Anonymous, "Anecdotes of the Author" European Magazine 5 (March 1784) 199.



Mr. Thomas Davies, as the title-page of the present entertaining performance [Dramatic Miscellanies] tells us, is a bookseller in Russel-street, Covent-garden. Though certainly possessed of no common share of literature, and though acquainted with books better than most of his brethren, he has been by no means successful in his business. The first notice we have of him is from the Dramatis Personae of Lillo's celebrated tragedy of Fatal Curiosity, acted at the Hay-market in 1736. At that time he performed under the management of Henry Fielding, and was the original representative of Young Wilmot. He afterwards commenced bookseller in Duke's-court, but met with misfortunes which induced him to return to the theatre. For several years he belonged to various companies at York, at Dublin, at other places, at the first of which he married his wife, Miss Yarrow, daughter of a performer there, whose beauty was not more remarkable than her private character has ever been unsullied and irreproachable. About 1732 he returned to London, and with Mrs. Davies was engaged at Drury Lane, where they remained for several years in good estimation with the Town, and played many characters, if not with great excellence, at least with propriety and decency. Churchill's indiscriminate Satire has endeavoured to fix some degree of ridicule on Mr. Davies's performance; but the pen of a satirist is not entitled to implicit credit. Our author quitted the theatre about 1762; and it would afford us satisfaction could we have recorded that his efforts in trade had been crowned with the success which his abilities in his profession merited. Besides the present work, and the Life of Mr. Garrick, Mr. Davies is generally supposed to be the author of some Anecdotes of Mr. Henderson, A Review of Lord Chesterfield's Characters, A Life of Massinger, Lives of Dr. John Eachard, Sir John Davies, and Mr. Lillo, and many fugitive pieces in prose and verse published in the News-papers.