Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Glover, Richard

GLOVER, RICHARD (1712–1785), poet, born in St. Martin's Lane, Cannon Street, in 1712, was the son of Richard Glover, a Hamburg merchant in London. He was educated at Cheam in Surrey. In 1728 a poem upon Sir Isaac Newton, written by him in his sixteenth year, was prefixed to 'A View of Newton's Philosophy,' by Henry Pemberton, M.D. Glover entered his father's business, but continued his poetical efforts, and became, according to Warton, a good Greek scholar. In 1737 he published 'Leonidas,' an epic poem in blank verse and in nine books. It went through four editions, was praised by Lord Lyttelton in a periodical paper called 'Common Sense,' and by Fielding in the 'Champion.' Pemberton extolled its merits in a pamphlet called 'Observations on Poetry, especially epic, occasioned by … Leonidas,' 1738. Glover republished it, enlarged to twelve books, in 1770. Two later editions appeared in 1798 and 1804; and it has been translated into French (1738) and German (1766). It was taken as a poetical manifesto in the interests of Walpole's antagonists. In 1739 Glover published 'London, or the Progress of Commerce,' also in blank verse; and his one still readable ballad, 'Hosier's Ghost,' referring to the unfortunate expedition of Admiral Hosier in 1726. It was spirited enough to survive the immediate interest due to the 'Jenkins's ear' excitement, and was republished in Percy's 'Reliques.' Glover opposed the nomination of a partisan of Walpole as lord mayor, and in 1742 took part in one of the assaults upon the falling minister. The lord mayor, Sir Robert Godschall, presented a petition signed by three hundred merchants, and drawn up by Glover (20 Jan.), complaining of the inadequate protection of British commerce, and Glover afterwards attended to sum up their evidence before the House of Commons. His fame as a patriot was recognised in the Duchess of Marlborough's will. She died in 1744, leaving 500l. apiece to Glover and Mallet to write the duke's life. He refused to undertake the task, although he is said to have been in difficulties. He was a proprietor at this time of the Temple Mills, near Marlow. Although intimate with Lyttelton, Cobham, and others, he got nothing by their political victory. In 1751 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the office of chamberlain of the city of London. He lost a patron by the death of Frederick, prince of Wales, who is said to have sent him 'a complete set of all classics, elegantly bound,' and at another time 500l. The money left, however, is denied by Duppa. He now tried the stage, and wrote 'Boadicea,' performed at Drury Lane for nine nights in December 1753, and praised in a pamphlet by his old admirer, Pemberton. In 1761 he published 'Medea,' a tragedy on the Greek model, not intended for the stage, but thrice acted for Mrs. Yates's benefit (1767, 1768, and 1776). He also presented to Mrs. Yates a continuation called 'Jason,' which was never acted, but published in 1799. Glover's affairs improved, and in 1761 he was returned to parliament for Weymouth, doubtless through the interest of his friend, Bubb Dodington, who enlisted him in support of Bute. His only recorded speech was on 13 May 1762, when he opposed a subsidy to Portugal, and was answered by Pitt. He is said to have supported George Grenville, but did not sit after the dissolution of 1768. He took a prominent part in arranging the affairs of Douglas, Heron, & Co., whose failure in 1762 made a great sensation; and appeared twice before committees of the House of Commons to sum up evidence as to commercial grievances (1774 and 1775). His statements were published, and on the last occasion he received a piece of plate worth 300l. from the West India merchants in acknowledgment of his services, He died at his house in Albemarle Street, 25 Nov. 1785. His will mentions property in the city of London, in South Carolina, and in Kent, where he was lord of the manor of Down. He married Hannah Nunn, a lady of property, 21 May 1737, and had two sons by her, but was divorced in 1756. A second wife survived him. A son, Richard Glover, was M.P. for Penryn, and presented to the Inner Temple Hall a portrait of Richard West, lord chancellor of Ireland, who was the elder Glover's maternal uncle, and father of Gray's friend.

His ponderous 'Athenaid,' an epic poem in thirty books, was published in 1787 by his daughter, Mrs. Halsey. It is much longer and so far worse than 'Leonidas,' but no one has been able to read either for a century.

A diary called 'Memoirs by a Distinguished Literary and Political Character [Glover] from the resignation of Sir Robert Walpole in 1742 to the establishment of Lord Chatham's second administration in 1757' was published in 1813 (by R. Duppa [q. v.]) It was followed in 1814 by 'An Inquiry concerning the Author of the Letters of Junius,' also by Duppa, who convinced himself but nobody else that Junius was Glover. The 'Memoirs' are of little value, though they contribute something to our knowledge of the political intrigues of the time.

[European Magazine for January 1786 (by Isaac Reed), with a 'character' by Dr. Brocklesby from the Gent. Mag., is the only life, and is reproduced by Anderson and Chalmers in their Collections of English Poets. See also Inquiry, as above; Dodington's Diary; Horace Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), i. 31, 117. 136; Parl. Hist. xv. 1222; Genest's Hist. of the Stage, iv. 381, v. 123.]

L. S.