John Dennis

Thomas Cooke to Mr. Baker, 1734; European Magazine 9 (February 1786) 92-93.

Give me leave to assure you that I am much ashamed of giving you so much trouble as I have done of late; but I shall henceforward, now the Parliament sits, free you from expence when I take the like freedom. In an English work which I am now publishing, I have frequent reason to use Gabriel Faernus's name; and I am at a loss to know what name to call him by in English. Faern is no Italian termination, and if his name was Farnese, I should think the Latin would have been Farnesius. If you will be so good as to inform me what name you would call him by in English, I shall be much obliged to you.

Till I had the favour of your last, I was under a mistake about Mr. Dennis's age and college. The Papers sayed he was in great want before he died; if so, poor gentleman, it was partly owing to his own extravagance, for what I now tell you, you may depend on, as on your own existence. After having spent his own fortune, which was left him by his uncle, who was an Alderman of London, whether his father's or mother's brother I cannot tell, the late Duke of Marlborough gave him a King's waiter's place which he possessed many years, and sold for six hundred pounds, about the year 1720. The late Earl of Pembroke was continually sending him presents for nine or ten years past. He sent him, about eight years ago, thirty guineas at one time by Sir Andrew Fountains, since which time he has sent him several times in a year, five and two guineas at a time by me. About two years ago he received an hundred pounds by the hands of Mr. Morrice, just as he came from visiting his father-in-law Dr. Atterbury in France. Mr. Morrice sayed he was ordered not to tell from whom it came, nor did Mr. Dennis ever know; though he has sayed he believed from Dr. Atterbury; "but that's uncertain; the circumstances I suppose made him guess him," and 'tis not certain that Dr. Atterbury did not sent it. Sir Robert Walpole to my knowledge has allowed him not less than twenty pounds a-year for several years till he died, on no other consideration but his age and infirmities, and his having made a figure in the republic of letters. A few weeks before he died he had a benefit given him by one of our Theatres, by which he got above a hundred pounds. These are facts which I relate with certainty: besides all which he got a great deal by his writings.

Your commands will reach me at Mr. Smith's, a peruke-maker, in Red-lion court, Fleet street, London, which will be received with great respect by, Sir,

Your obliged and most humble servant,

Thomas Cooke.

London, Jan. 24, 1734.

To the Reverend Mr. Baker,

of St. John's College,