1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Davies

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:754.



1785, May 5. Died, THOMAS DAVIES, a bookseller, in Russel-street, Covent-garden, London. Mr. Davies was a man of uncommon strength of mind, who prided himself on being through life a companion for his superiors. He was born in or about the year 1712, and educated at the university of Edinburgh, and became, as Dr. Johnson used to say of him, learned enough for a clergyman. He imbibed very early a taste for theatrical pursuits; and in 1736, his name appears in the bills of the Haymarket theatre. He next appeared at York, where he married Miss Yarrow, an actress, whose beauty was not more remarkable than her private character was ever unsullied and irreproachable. He also performed at Edinburgh, where he appears to have been the manager of the theatre. He then went to Dublin, and, with his wife, performed several characters. In 1753, he was with his wife at Drury-lane, where they remained several years in good estimation with the town. In 1762, a few years before he finally quitted the theatre, he resumed his former occupation of a bookseller, in Russel-street, and became the author, compiler, and publisher, of many useful works; but not meeting with that success which his attention and abilities merited, Mr. Davies, in 1778, was under the disagreeable necessity of submitting to become a bankrupt; when such was the regard entertained for him by his friends, that they readily consented to his re-establishment; and none, as he said himself, were more active to serve him, than those who had suffered most by his misfortunes. But all their efforts might possibly have been fruitless, if his great and good friend Dr. Johnson had not exerted all his interest in his behalf. In 1780, by a well-timed publication, the Life of Garrick, two volumes, which passed through four editions, he not only acquired considerable fame, but realized money. Mr. Davies was the writer of essays without number, in prose and verse, in the St. James's Chronicle, and some other of the public newspapers. At his death he was aged about seventy-three years, and was buried by his own desire, in the vault of St. Paul, Covent Garden; and the following lines were written on the occasion:

Here lies the author, actor, Thomas Davies;
Living he shone a very rara avis;
The scenes he played life's audience most commend,
He honoor'd Gsrrick-Johnson was his friend.

Mrs. Davies, his widow, died Feb. 9, 1801.