1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Davies

William Tooke, Note to The Rosciad; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 1:23-24n.



With him came mighty Davies; on my life
That Davies hath a very pretty wife:—
Statesman all over! — in plots famous grown!
He mouths a sentence, as curs mouth a bone.

Thomas Davies, a bookseller, actor and author. He failed in the two former avocations but has established a reputation for amusing biography, by his dramatic miscellanies and a gossipping life of Garrick, to which works we are indebted for several of our notes. He was a perfect quidnunc in politics, with which he has seasoned all his publications. He died in 1785. Mrs. Davies was sometimes called upon to perform Mrs. Cibber's parts, particularly Cordelia in Lear; and her figure, look and deportment were so correspondent with the idea of this amiable character, that she was received with no inconsiderable share of approbation. A report having once prevailed that Churchill intended speedily to publish a new theatrical satire, entitled the Smithfield Rosciad, wherein the merits of the inferior actors were to be considered; and Mr. Davies, of Covent-Garden theatre, having been informed, that he was made the hero of this intended publication, he thought proper to send the following letter to Churchill:

SIR,

Conscious of my inability, and ever desirous of attending to the reproof of those whose judgment in my profession must be deemed of a superior degree, from the just estimation they have acquired in the literary world; I humbly conceive myself entitled, at least, to an omission of such parts of your next intended publication, as may tend to expose some imperfections (perhaps natural ones) and thereby retard the progress I presume to hope in the esteem of the candid world, from an invariable assiduity and exertion of the poor talents with which I am invested. Nature and fortune are not equally liberal to all. Perfection in my profession is rarely attainable. Where the pursuit of science has its due effect, and the knowledge of ourselves improves with other attainments, it will dispose us to treat with lenity those who wait our reproof at humble distance, and to correct their errors in a manner not injurious to them in the very means of their existence, but by kind admonishing, conducive to excite a due attention, and produce reformation in all, who are conscious of defects, and willing to amend; amongst whom none is more sincerely so than,

Sir, your humble Servant,

T. DAVIES

To this Letter CHURCHILL made the following Reply:

SIR,

From whom you have obtained your information concerning my next publication I know not, nor indeed am solicitous to know, neither can I think you intitled, as you express it, to an exemption from any severity, as you express it, which gentlemen of your profession, as you express it, are subject to.

I am your humble Servant,

CHARLES CHURCHILL.

P.S. Defects (perhaps natural, as you express it) are secure from my own feelings, without any application.