Mayne, Jasper (DNB00)

MAYNE, JASPER (1604–1672), archdeacon of Chichester and dramatist, was son of Gasper or Jasper Mayne, ‘gent,’ and was baptised at Hatherleigh, Devonshire, where the family owned a small property, on 23 Nov. 1604 (par. reg.). He was educated at Westminster, and proceeded to Oxford as a servitor of Christ Church in 1623. He there received much encouragement from the dean, Brian Duppa [q. v.], and was elected a student in 1627. Taking holy orders, he graduated B.A. 1628, M.A. 1631, B.D. 1642, and D.D. 1646. Like his patron, Duppa, Mayne had much literary taste, and was soon known in the university as ‘a quaint preacher and noted poet.’ When William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke [q. v.], chancellor of the university, died in 1630, he wrote an English elegy (cf. Corpus Christi Coll. Oxon. MSS. clxxvi. 3, cccxxviii. 52). English poems by him also figure in the collections of verse issued by the university in 1633 on Charles I's recovery from illness, in 1638 on Queen Henrietta's convalescence after confinement, and in 1643 on the queen's return from the continent. His university friends included William Cartwright [q. v.], the dramatist and divine, also a member of Christ Church, and he contributed commendatory verses to the collected edition of Cartwright's plays and poems, 1651. Meanwhile he mixed in London literary society, and was one of those who wrote ‘to the memory of Ben Jonson’ in ‘Jonsonus Virbius’ (1637); and verses by him in honour of Beaumont and Fletcher were first printed in the folio of 1679. He is also, very doubtfully, credited with the admirable elegy superscribed ‘I. M. S.,’ and prefixed to the 1632 folio of Shakespeare's ‘Works.’ ‘I. M. S.’ has been interpreted as ‘Jasper Mayne, Student,’ but the lines are of far superior quality to any assigned with certainty to Mayne (Shakespeare, Centurie of Praise, New Shakspere Soc., pp. 190–4).

Mayne himself attempted playwriting, and in 1639 completed the ‘City Match,’ a domestic comedy of much sprightliness, although somewhat confused in plot. It was acted both at the court at Whitehall and at the Blackfriars Theatre, and was published at Oxford. Its full title ran: ‘The City Match. A Comœdye. Presented to the King and Qveene at White-Hall. Acted since at Black-Friers by his Maiesties Servants. Horat. de Arte Poet. Versibus exponi Tragicis res Comica non vult. Oxford, Printed by Leonard Lichfield, Printer to the University. Anno Dom. M.D.C. xxxix,’ fol. Another edition appeared at Oxford in 1659, and it is included in Dodsley's ‘Old Plays.’ On 28 Sept. 1668 Pepys saw it performed—the first time ‘these thirty years,’ he declares—and condemned it as ‘but a silly play.’ In 1755 William Bromfield revised it, and presented his version to the governors of the Lock Hospital, who secured a representation of it at Drury Lane for the benefit of the charity. Bromfield's revision was issued as ‘The Schemers, or the City Match.’ In 1828 J. R. Planché constructed out of the ‘City Match’ and Rowley's ‘Match at Midnight’ a piece called ‘The Merchant's Wedding, or London's Frolics in 1638,’ which was performed at Covent Garden 5 Feb. 1828, and was printed. A second dramatic effort by Mayne—a tragi-comedy, entitled ‘The Amorous War’—was far more serious, and at most points inferior to its forerunner, but it contained a good lyric, ‘Time is a Feathered Thing,’ which is reprinted in Henry Morley's ‘King and Commons,’ p. 53. It was published in 1648, 4to, and in 1658 copies of it were bound up with the ‘City Match,’ in a volume called ‘Two Plaies: The City Match, a Comœdy; and the Amorous Warre, a Tragy Comœdy; both long since written. By J. M. of Ch. Ch. in Oxon. Oxford: Printed by Hen. Hall for Ric. Davis,’ 1658, 4to.

Mayne's more distinctly academic work was represented by a translation of Lucian's ‘Dialogues,’ which he began about 1638 for the entertainment of a distinguished patron, William Cavendish, marquis of Newcastle [q. v.] But the ‘barbarous times’ of civil war diverted Newcastle's attention from literature, and the book remained incomplete, although it was printed in 1664, with a continuation by Francis Hickes [q. v.], as ‘Part of Lucian made English from the originall, in the Yeare 1638, by Iasper Mayne … to which are adjoyned these other Dialogues … translated by Mr. Francis Hicks’ (Oxford, 1664). The volume is dedicated by Mayne to the Marquis of Newcastle. To Donne's ‘Paradoxes, Problemes, Essayes, Characters’ (1652), Mayne contributed a verse translation of the Latin epigrams, which he entitled ‘A Sheaf of Miscellany Epigrams’ (pp. 88–103). Other occasional verse attributed to him includes a poem in MS. Harl. 6931, f. 117, ‘On Mrs. Anne King's Table Booke of Pictures,’ beginning:

Mine eyes were once blest with the sight;

some manuscript lines signed ‘J. M.,’ in a copy of Alexander Ross's ‘Mel Heliconicum,’ 1646, formerly in Sir William Tite's library; an epitaph on some unknown friend, in the British Museum copy of Milton's English and Latin poems, 1646, signed ‘J. M. 10ber 1647’ (Times, 16 July 1868 and following days; Athenæum, 1868, ii. 83 sq.; Morley, King and Commons, passim; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vol. ii. passim); ‘Proteleia Anglo-Batava,’ 1641 (Hunter, manuscript Chorus Vatum), and ‘To the Duke of York on the late Seafight,’ 1665, beginning:

War the supreme decider of a cause,

among Matthew Wilson's manuscripts at Eshton Hall, Yorkshire (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 295).

In middle life Mayne definitely abandoned poetry. In 1639 he accepted the college living of Cassington, near Woodstock, but during the civil war he was chiefly in Oxford, and often preached before the king. He is possibly the ‘J. M., D.D.,’ who published, 30 May 1646, ‘The Difference about Church Government ended,’ with a dedication to the parliament. The writer argues in favour of the dependence of the church on the state. On 9 Aug. 1646 he preached at Carfax Church ‘concerning unity and agreement’ (Oxford, 1646, 4to). In 1647 he defended the royalist position in a pamphlet, ‘Ochlo-machia, or the People's War, in answer to a Letter sent by a person of quality who desired satisfaction’ (25 July 1647). He also issued a sermon against false prophets ‘shortly after the surrender of the garrison.’ This evoked a reply from Francis Cheynell [q. v.], and Mayne vindicated himself from Cheynell's ‘causeless aspersions’ in a published letter entitled ‘A late printed Sermon against False Prophets … Vindicated …,’ 1647. On 3 May 1648 he was summoned before the parliamentary visitors, and 2 Oct. was removed from his studentship (Register of the Visitors, ed. Burrows, Camd. Soc., pp. 30–1, 196). He was also ejected from Cassington. At the same time the family estate of Hatherleigh was sequestrated, and Mayne's brother, John, obtained permission to compound on 4 Aug. 1652 (Cal. Committee for Compounding, p. 3033). On 30 March 1648 Mayne, however, was presented to the Christ Church living of Pyrton, Oxfordshire, and resided there at intervals for eight years. On 11 Sept. 1652 he took part in a public disputation in the neighbouring church of Watlington with John Pendarves [q. v.], and preached ‘a sermon against schism’ (1652, 4to), amid much interruption from the friends of his opponent. This he reprinted, with earlier controversial works, in ‘Certain Sermons and Letters of Defence and Resolution to some of the late Controversies of our Times,’ London, 1653, 4to.

Ejected from Pyrton in 1656, Mayne took refuge with William Cavendish, earl of Devonshire, and occupied his leisure in disputing on religious topics with Hobbes, the earl's tutor. ‘Between them,’ says Wood, ‘there never was a right understanding.’ Aubrey, however, describes Mayne as Hobbes's ‘old acquaintance.’ On 1 Nov. 1653 Mayne had written from Derbyshire, apparently from Chatsworth, declining Richard Whitlocke's invitation to prefix verses to Whitlocke's forthcoming ‘Zωοτομία,’ on the double ground that the rude place in which he was dwelling abated his fancy, and that his published verse had been condemned as unbefitting his profession.

At the Restoration Mayne was reinstated in his benefices, and was appointed a canon of Christ Church, archdeacon of Chichester, and chaplain in ordinary to the king. He preached at Oxford 27 May 1662, when ‘his drift was to display the duncery of the university in the late intervall’ (Wood), and in the same year he preached in London at the consecration of Herbert Croft [q. v.], bishop of Hereford. Both sermons were published, the latter with a graceful dedication to Mayne's early benefactor, Duppa. In January 1663–4, at a supper given by Dean Fell at Christ Church after the undergraduates had performed a play, Mayne made a speech, declaring that ‘he liked well an acting student’ (Wood). He died at Oxford on 6 Dec. 1672, and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral. Robert Thynne wrote Latin elegiac verses in his honour. Robert South [q. v.] and John Lamphire [q. v.] were his executors, and by his will he left 500l. towards the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral, and 100l. to each of his benefices, Cassington and Pyrton. He left nothing to Christ Church, because, according to Wood, ‘he had taken some distaste for affronts received from the dean of his college and certain students encouraged by him in their grinning and sauciness towards him.’ Though ‘accounted a witty and a facetious companion,’ he seems to have been addicted to unseasonable practical jokes. He told an old servant that he had left him ‘something which would make him drink after his master's death.’ The bequest was a red herring.

Besides the works noticed, Wood tentatively assigns to Mayne ‘Policy Unveiled, or Maxims and Reasons of State, by J. M., of Oxon.’

[Information kindly supplied by the Rev. T. Vere Bayne, and by the vicars of Cassington and Pyrton; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 971; Wood's Colleges and Halls, ed. Gutch, p. 500; Wood's Life, ed. Andrew Clarke (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 441, ii. 2, 90, 254, Hunter's Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 24488, f. 210; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, p. 107.]

S. L.