1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Williams

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:793n.



He was born in the metropolis, and had his education at Merchant Taylor's School, where he suffered chastisement for an epigram upon Mr. Knox, the third master. At the age of seventeen, he was placed with a painter, but quitted that profession to commence author and translator. When he was no more than eighteen, he wrote a defence of Garrick against Dr. Kenrick, which procured him the friendship of the British Roscius. About two years afterwards, he went to Ireland, and during his residence in Dublin, he edited several periodical publications; but having attacked the government during the administration of the duke of Rutland, a prosecution was commenced against him, and he was obliged to decamp, leaving the printers to endure the judgment. In 1784, he was associated with Mr. Bate Dudley, in conducting the Morning Herald, but a violent quarrel breaking out between them, Williams wrote an intemperate satire on his antagonist, for which he was prosecuted. The action, however, terminated by the interference of some friends. In 1787, Williams accompanied his friend Pilon to France, and on his return commenced a paper called The Brighton Guide. He next settled at Bath, from which place he was also under the necessity of withdrawing precipitately; and in 1797, we find him in the court of the king's bench, as plaintiff in an action against Faulder the bookseller, for a libel contained in Mr. Gifford's poem, entitled The Baviad, where, in one of the notes, the author speaking of the scribbler, observes, that "he was one so lost to every sense of decency and shame, that his acquaintance was infamy, and his touch poison." In this cause the plaintiff was nonsuited, solely from the proof that was exhibited of having himself grossly libelled every respectable character in the kingdom, from the sovereign down to the lowest of his subjects. He was afterwards engaged as a theatrical reporter on one of our newspapers; but happening to write a critique on a celebrated actor, who, in fact, did not perform at all on the night when he was described as having murdered his part, the calumniator was dismissed.