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Birth — Educated at Cambridge — Is commended by Waller - His

Dramatic Pieces His “Mira' Made Secretary of War and a Peer - Encourages Pope — Death and Burial in St. Clement's Danes Works and Character.


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OF GEORGE GRANVILLE, or, as others write, Greenville, or Grenville, afterwards Lord Lansdown, of Bideford, in the county of Devon, less is known than his name and rank might give reason to expect. He was born about 1665, the son of Bernard Greenville, who was entrusted by Monk with the most private transactions of the Restoration, and the grandson of Sir Bevil Greenville, who died in the King's cause at the battle of Lansdown.

His early education was superintended by Sir William Ellis ; and his progress was such that before the age of twelve he was sent to Cambridge, where he pronounced a copy of his own verses to the Princess Mary d'Estè of Modena, then Duchess of York, when she visited the university.

At the accession of King James, being now at eighteen, he again exerted his poetical powers, and addressed the new monarch in three short pieces, of which the first is profane, and the two others such as a boy might be expected to produce ; but he was commended by old Waller, who perhaps was pleased to find himself imitated in six lines, which, though they begin with


| The poet's mother was Anne, sole daughter and heir of Cuthbert Morley, of Hawnby in Cleveland, in the county of York. The poet was the second


? To Trinity College. He was admitted to his Master's degree in 1679.



nonsense and end with dulness, excited in the young

author rapture of acknowledgment:

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It was probably about this time that he wrote the poem to the Earl of Peterborough, upon his accomplishment of the Duke of York's marriage with the Princess of Modena, whose charms appear to have gained a strong prevalence over his imagination, and upon whom nothing ever has been charged but imprudent piety, an intemperate and misguided zeal for the propagation of popery

. However faithful Granville might have been to the King, or however enamoured of the Queen, he has left no reason for supposing that he approved either the artifices or the violence with which the King's religion was insinuated or obtruded. He endeavoured to be true at once to the King and to the Church.

Of this regulated loyalty he has transmitted to posterity a sufficient proof in the letter which he wrote to his father about a month before the Prince of Orange landed.



“ Mar, near Doncaster, Oct. 6, 1688. “Sir, —Your having no prospect of obtaining a commission for me can no way alter or cool my desire at this important juncture to venture my life, in some manner or other, for my King and my country.

“ I cannot bear living under the reproach of lying obscure and idle in a country retirement, when every man who has the least sense of honour should be preparing for the field.

“ You may remember, Sir, with what reluctance I submitted to your commands upon Monmouth's rebellion, when no importunity could prevail with you to permit me to leave the Academy: I was too young to be hazarded; but, give me leave to say, it is glorious at any age to die for one's country, and the sooner the nobler the sacrifice.

“I am now older by three years. My uncle Bathe was not so old when he was left among the slain at the battle of Newbury; nor you

3 In numbers such as Dorset's self might use.

ADDISON to Sacheverell.

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yourself, Sir, when you made your escape from your tutor's, to join your brother at the defence of Scilly.

The same cause is now come round about again. The King has been misled ; let those who have misled him be answerable for it. Nobody can deny but he is sacred in his own person ; and it is every honest man's duty to defend it.

“ You are pleased to say, it is yet doubtful if the Hollanders are rash enough to make such an attempt; but, be that as it will, I beg leave to insist upon it, that I may be presented to his Majesty, as one whose utmost ambition is to devote his life to his service, and my country's, after the example of all my ancestors.

“ The gentry assembled at York, to agree upon the choice of representatives for the county, have prepared an address, to assure his Majesty they are ready to sacrifice their lives and fortunes for him upon this and all other occasions ; but at the same time they humbly beseech him to give them such magistrates as may be agreeable to the laws of the land; for, at present, there is no authority to which they can legally submit.

They have been beating up for volunteers at York, and the towns adjacent, to supply the regiments at Hull; but nobody will list.

By what I can hear, everybody wishes well to the King; but they would be glad his ministers were hanged.

“ The winds continue so contrary, that no landing can be so soon as was apprehended; therefore I may hope, with your leave and assistance, to be in readiness before any action can begin. . I beseech you, Sir, most humbly and most earnestly, to add this one act of indulgence more to so many other testimonies which I have constantly received of your goodness ; and be pleased to believe me always, with the utmost duty and submission, Sir,

" Your most dutiful son,
“ And most obedient servant,


Through the whole reign of King William he is supposed to have lived in literary retirement, and indeed had for some time few other pleasures but those of study in his power. He was, as the biographers observe, the younger son of a younger brother; a denomination by which our ancestors proverbially expressed the lowest state of penury and dependence. He is said, however, to have preserved himself at this time from disgrace and difficulties by economy, which he forgot or neglected in life more advanced, and in better fortune.

About this time he became enamoured of the Countess of


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Newburgh, 4 whom he has celebrated with so much ardour by the name of Mira. He wrote verses to her before he was threeand-twenty, and may be forgiven if he regarded the face more than the mind. Poets are sometimes in too much haste to praise.

In the time of his retirement it is probable that he composed his dramatic pieces, the “She-Gallants' (acted 1696), which he revised, and called “Once a Lover, and always a Lover;' • The Jew of Venice,' altered from Shakespeare's • Merchant of Venice' (1698); • Heroic Love,' a tragedy (1698); “The British Enchanters' (1706), a dramatic poem; and Peleus and Thetis,' a masque, written to accompany “The Jew of Venice.'

The comedies, which he has not printed in his own edition of his works,” I never saw: “Once a Lover, and always a Lover,' is said to be in a great degree indecent and gross. Granville could not admire without bigotry ; he copied the wrong as well as the right from his masters, and may be supposed to have learned obscenity from Wycherley, as he learned mythology from Waller.

In his ‘Jew of Venice,' as Rowe remarks, the character of Shylock is made comic, and we are prompted to laughter instead of detestation.

It is evident that “Heroic Love' was written and presented on the stage before the death of Dryden. It is a mythological tragedy, upon the love of Agamemnon and Chryseis, and


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4 Frances Brudenell, daughter of Francis, Lord Brudepell (d. 1698), married, first, to the Earl of Newburgh; and, secondly, to Richard Bellew, Baron Dueleck, in the kingdom of Ireland.

5 The 'She-Gallants,' a comedy wrote by Mr. Granville when he was very young; extraordinary witty and well acted; but offending the ears of some ladies who set up for chastity, it made its exit.--DOWNES: Roscirus Anglicanus, 12mo. 1708, p. 45.

6 Produced at the Haymarket Theatre 21st Feb. 1705-6, and ran twelve nights.

? That in 2 vols. 4to. 1732.

8 It is printed in his Works, 3 vols. 12mo. 1736, and was revived by Macklin for his benefit at Drury Lane, 13th March, 1745-6.

. It was acted at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1698. Dryden died in 1700.

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