1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Seally

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:637-38.



John Sealley, LL.D. was born in Somersetshire, about the year 1747, and received the rudiments of classical learning in the grammar-school in Bristol, with a view to the church. But his uncle and patron dying while he was a minor, and his father having violent objections to the idea of a poor curate, wished him to turn his thoughts to the law. He served some part of his clerkship; but his aversion to that study was such, that, by consent of parties, his articles were cancelled. Business, therefore, being his designation, he was put under the celebrated Mr. Postlethwayte, whose rigid principles and conduct were so little relished, that, by the private assistance of his mother, he commenced the lazy gentleman, the author, and dramatic censor. Her death cutting off his principal resources, he seriously began to think of turning his talents to profit. Previously, however, to this unexpected incident, in an excursion to Manchester, he was on the point of possessing an accomplished young lady, with a fortune of £40,000; but was overtaken in their elopement by the father, at Worcester, where he lost both his mistress and prospect. The young lady was hurried into Scotland, where, about twelve months after, she fell a victim to her attachment. The lover, inconsolable for his loss, gave himself up to solitude, and the deepest melancholy. By the pressing solicitation of his friends, he again returned to the capital, and was united to a character so opposite to his own, as to poison his health, happiness, and pursuits. He was at last advised to go into the south of France; from thence he made the tour of Italy, and at Rome was chosen a member of the celebrated academy called the Arcades. His introduction was by the eulogium on Corilla, who was, about 1774, crowned the poetess of Italy. He began his literary career by a number of fugitive pieces of poetry, scattered up and down in the magazines and public prints. He afterwards wrote, for a length of time, a political paper under the signature of Britannicus. He also conducted for several years The Universal Museum, The Freeholder's Magazine, and was concerned in The St. James's Review, published by Lloyd. He was also the author of Dramatic Strictures, and a great number of novels, particularly Calisto and Emira, The Favourite of Fortune, and The Young Philosopher. He likewise published two volumes of Belles Lettres (which he dedicated, by permission, to the Princess Royal), with several other works on different branches of education. He also wrote The Marriage of Sir Gawaine, Op. 1782.