1719 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Denham

Giles Jacob, in Poetical Register: or the Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets (1719) 66-67.



This Gentleman liv'd in the Reign of King Charles I. and II; and was not only of the first Rank for Wit and Gallantry, but also in Loyalty. He was Son of Sir John Denham of Horsley in Essex, Born in Ireland; his Father being, at the time of his Birth, a Judge and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in that Kingdom. He was brought over from thence very Young, upon his Father's Promotion to the Exchequer in England; and in the Year 1631. he was sent to Trinity College in Oxon. He remain'd there some Years; and afterwards repairing to London he studied the Civil Law. On the breaking out of the Civil War, he got Admission to King Charles I. by the Assistance of Hugh Peters, being then employ'd on a Message from the Queen: This Negotiation he perform'd so well, that he was intrusted by the King to take care of his Letters and Correspondence at Home and Abroad, privately in London; but after a short space, Mr. Cowley's Hand being known, he was discover'd, and oblig'd to make his Escape beyond Sea, where he afterwards gave his Attendance on King Charles II. 'till the Restoration. The King oftentimes gave him Subjects to write on, for the Diversion of his melancholy Hours, wherein the Poet seldom fell short of his Master's Expectation. His Majesty made him Surveyor General of his Royal Buildings; and at his Coronation created him Knight of the Bath. He writ divers Poems and Translations; among which, Cooper's Hill is very much applauded; a Poem, which Mr. Dryden tells us, for the Majesty of the Stile, is, and ever will be, the exact Standard of good Writing. To these Poems is prefix'd one Play of this Authors, call'd,

The Sophy; a Tragedy, acted with great Applause, at the Theatre in Black-fryars, 1671. The Plot of this Play is the same with that of Baron's Mirza, taken from Herbert's Travels in the Life of Abbas.

He died at Whitehall, in the Year 1668. and was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the Remains of the Father of our English Poets, the great CHAUCER.