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CHARACTER AS A POET.
works were praised. Dryden, whom, if Prior tells truth, he distinguished by his beneficence, and who lavished his blandishments on those who are not known to have so well deserved them, undertaking to produce authors of our own country superior to those of antiquity, says, “ I would instance your Lordship in satire, and Shakespeare in tragedy." 12 Would it be imagined that, of this rival to antiquity, all the satires were little personal invectives, and that his longest composition was a song of eleven stanzas ?
The blame, however, of this exaggerated praise falls on the encomiast, not upon the author ; whose performances are, what they pretend to be, the effusions of a man of wit-gay, vigorous, and airy. His verses to Howard show great fertility of mind, and his ‘Dorinda' has been imitated by Pope.13
!? Dedication of Juvenal (1693) to the Earl of Dorset.
13 Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was too much inclined to burlesque; Sir Fleetwood Shephard ran too much into romance and improbability, and the late Earl of Ranelagh into quibble and banter; yet each of these had a good deal of wit; and if they had had more study than generally a court life allows, as their ideas would have been more numerous, their wit would have been more perfect. The late Earl of Dorset was indeed a great exception to this rule, for he had thoughts which no book could lend him, and a way of expressing them which no man knew how to prescribe.-PRIOR: Heads of an Essay on Learning -MS.
Lord Dorset's things are all excellent in their way; for one should consider his pieces as a sort of epigrams; wit was his talent. He and Lord Rochester should be considered as holiday writers, as gentlemen that diverted themselves now and then with poetry rather than as poets.-POPE: Spence by Singer,
Among the uncollected poems of the Earl of Dorset let me mention *Epitaph: Under this stone lies prudent Dame Doroty' and 'Cosmelia' in Lintot and Pope's Miscellany, vol. ii. pp. 136-7, ed. 1732 ; · The Antiquated Coquet'in Drift's Prior, i. 170; and “On the Death of Queen Anne's Son,' and another poem in Park’s ed, of "Walpole's Noble Authors,' iv. 19, copied from Dr. Maty's Review.
Born at Westminster – Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge His
Political Employments — Death and Burial in Westminster Abbey – Works and Character.
GEORGE STEPNEY, descended from the Stepneys of Prendergast in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster in 1663. Of his father's condition or fortune we have no account. Having received the first part of his education at Westminster, where he passed six years in the college, he went at nineteen to Cambridge,' where he continued a friendship begun at school with Mr. Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax. They came to London together, and are said to have been invited into public life by the Earl of Dorset.”
His qualifications recommended him to many foreign employments, so that his time seems to have been spent in negotiations. In 1692 he was sent envoy to the Elector of Brandenburgh; in 1693 to the Imperial Court; in 1694 to the Elector of Saxony; in 1696 to the Electors of Mentz and Cologne, and the Congress at Frankfort; in 1698 a second time to Brandenburgh; in 1699 to the King of Poland ; in 1701 again to the Emperor; and in 1706 to the States General. In 1697 he was made one of the commissioners of trade. His life was busy, and
He was entered of Trinity College, and took his Master's degree in 1689. 2 Johnson had written Duke.
3 Johnson does not mention the date of any poem by Stepney. The first I have seen in point of time, is a translation of the 9th elegy of the 3rd book of Ovid, Upon the death of Tibullus,' printed in Tonson's first Miscellany, 1684, p. 154, followed by “The Epistle to Charles Montague, Esq., on His Majesty's Voyage to Ireland. By Mr. George Stepney. London: printed for Francis Saunders, &c., 1691,' fol.