1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Ralph

William Tooke, Note to The Conference; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 1:344n.



See men transformed to brutes, and brutes to men,
See Whitehead take a place, and Ralph change his pen,
I mock the zeal, and deem the men in sport,
Who rail at ministers and curse a court.

Mr. James Ralph at first appeared as a dramatic writer. He wrote several plays, and among the rest the Astrologer, borrowed from the old comedy of Albumazar, which was the foundation of Jonson's Alchymist. In the dramatic line he was ever unsuccessful. In the year 1742, the Duchess of Marlborough having published the memoirs of her own life, Ralph wrote an answer to it called, "The other side of the Question." This performance contributed to raise his reputation in the literary world, and in Sir Robert Walpole's administration he became so formidable as a political writer, that it was thought expedient to silence him by the payment of an annual stipend, which was continued to him by Mr. Pelham. Influenced by these motives he engaged in the defence of government, and laboured so successfully in his vocation as at the the death of George II. to obtain, through the interest of Lord Bute, a settled pension of 600 per ann. which he lived not long to enjoy. He died, in 1762, a martyr to the gout, at the age of 54. He wrote a tory history of England commencing with the dynasty of the Stuarts. He was latterly attached to Frederick Prince of Wales, and his name frequently occurs in Lord Melcombe's Diary, as one of the principal literary agents of the court of Leicester House.