1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Jeffreys

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:253.



GEORGE JEFFREYS was the son of Christopher Jeffreys, of Weldron, in Northamptonshire, and nephew to James Lord Chandos. He was born in the year 1678, was educated at Westminster school under Dr. Busby, and admitted of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1694, where he took the degrees in arts. In 1701 he was elected fellow of his college, and presided in the philosophy schools as moderator in 1706. He was also sub-orator for Dr. Ayloffe; but not going into orders within eight years, as the statutes of Trinity College require, he quitted his fellowship in 1709. In the words of one of his contemporaries (the master, Dr. Walker), "he performed his exercised in the college and university with applause, which, with a genteel modest deportment, gained him much esteem." Though Mr. Jeffreys was called to the bar, he never practised the law; but after acting as secretary to Dr. Hartstonge, Bishop of Derry, at the latter end of Queen Anne's and the begining of King George the First's reign, spent most of the remainder of his life in the families of the last two Dukes of Chandos, his relations. He died on the 17th day of August 1755, aged 77 years; having written, 1. Edwin. T. 8vo. 1724. 2. Merope. T. 8vo. 1731. 3. The Triumph of Truth. An Oratorio. These three dramatic performances are printed in a quarto volume of Miscellanies, in Prose and Verse, published by subscription, by Mr. Jeffreys, in the year 1754.

We suppose that a number of copies remained unsubscribed for, and fell into the hands of the booksellers several years after his decease; for we have now lying before us a copy with a title-page, dated 1767; yet not professing to be a new edition.

Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Addison, speaking of Cato, says, "At the publication, the wits seemed proud to pay their attendance with encomiastic verses. The best are from an unknown hand; which will perhaps lose somewhat of praise, when the author is known to be Jeffreys." We are wholly at a loss to know why Johnson should have spoken thus of our author (for the verses were his), whose moral character could never lessen the estimation of his poetry, because he was a man who conducted himself respectably through life.