Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bacon, Phanuel

BACON, PHANUEL (1700–1783), divine and dramatist, the son of Phanuel Bacon, fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, vicar of St. Lawrence's, Reading, and author of 'A Pastor's Admonition to his Parishioners' (Reading, 1727-8), was born on 13 Oct. 1700, at Reading, was a demy of Magdalen College, Oxford, and proceeded B.A. 12 June 1719, M.A. 17 April 1722, B.D. 29 April 1731, and D.D. 9 Dec. 1735. He became vicar of Bramber, in Sussex, and rectot of Balden, in Oxfordshire, at which place he died 10 Jan. 1783. His literary efforts won for him a reputation which, small as it is, is now difficult to understand. The 'Kite,' a poem, first published in 1719, appears in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for 1756, not in 1758, as Watt, in the 'Bibliotheca Britannica,' states, and all subsequent writers repeat. It is an ingenious mock-heroical poem, in the style of the 'Rape of the Lock.' A humorous ballad, called the 'Snipe,' is printed in the 'Oxford Sausage." In this, which is said to be founded on fact, the author depicts himself in the character of the friar, and his fellow-collegian, Peter Zinzan, M.D., in that of Peter. A 'Song of Similes,' also by him, is found in the same compilation. His most considerable effort consists of five plays: 1. 'The Taxes,' a dramatic entertainment; 2. 'The Insignificants,' a comedy; 3. 'The Tryal of the Time-Killers,' a comedy; 4. 'The floral Quack,' a dramatic satire; 5. 'The Oculist, a dramatic entertainment. These all bear the date of 1757. They were collected in a volume, entitled 'Humourous Ethics.' Some praise has been accorded these works. They are, however, sufficiently feeble productions, without a pretence to dramatic value or significance. In the 'Insignificants' characters named Sir Tunbelly Epicure, Hazard, Butterfly, Rattle, Lady Racket, &c., bearing names indicative of worldly pursuits, are convicted, on account of the triviality of their occupations, of being dead, and are buried in the Repository of Insignificants. In the 'Tryal of the Time-Killers,' Methusalem Rust, Esq., Sir Barnaby Bumper, Seignior Violoncello, &c., are tried for injuring Timothy Time, watch and clock maker. The other plays are similar in character.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Baker's Biographia Dramatica; Gent. Mag.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.: Rawlinson MSS. (Bodleian Libr.)]

J. K.