1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Moses Mendez

John Taylor Esq., in Records of my Life (1832) 1:36-38 &n.



As I was often profuse in expressing my high opinion of this lady [Clara Brooke], whenever I was with her, she more than once desired that I would read a poem, entitled "The Squire of Dames," written by a Mr. Mendez, a rich gentleman of the Jewish persuasion. It is in Dodsley's collection of poems. Mr. Mendez was the author of "The Chaplet," a musical after-piece, which was very popular in its day. He also published a volume of poems, partly selected, and partly his own production. In this volume were included some stanzas to the celebrated Mrs. Woffington, beginning "Once more I'll tune the vocal shell" which were generally attributed to Garrick, on account of his known partiality to that actress, but were really written by Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, one of the most vigorous satirical poets of his time, and appear in the three volumes of his works published by Lord Holland, which are more creditable to his Lordship's love of genius and his sense of humour, than to his regard for delicacy, as there are many passages in these volumes that ought never to have seen the light, however pointed, ingenious, and facetious.

Upon my asking Mrs. Brooke why she had so particularly desired me to read "The Squire of Dames," she declined telling me the reason, and said she left it to my own discernment. After having read the poem, and reflected on its drift, finding that the heroine, though deemed exemplary for virtue, appeared to have all the frailty which satirists impute to the female sex, I concluded that she intended to induce me to infer that I thought too favourably of her, and to intimate that she partook of all human errors, particularly those of her own sex.

* Whatever might have been the errors of this amiable woman, the goodness of her heart, the benevolence of her disposition, and the rectitude of her principles, at least during the latter period of her life, may be properly received as an expiatory atonement for anything that might have happened subsequent to her separation from her husband, who, if of a different temper, might have rendered her the delight of his life, and the ornament of society.