Pluto, &c., and two original Dialogues,’ London, 8vo (the second edition, London, 1730, 12mo; a new edition, Glasgow, 1754, 12mo). Hughes, ‘though not only an honest but a pious man’ (Lives of the Poets, ii. 184), dedicated the book to the Earl of Wharton, who, upon his appointment as lord-lieutenant of Ireland in the following year, offered to take Hughes with him. Hughes, however, relying upon the promises of another patron, which were never realised, declined the offer, and thus lost the chance of preferment. In 1712 his opera of ‘Calypso and Telemachus’ (London, 1712, 8vo; second edition, London, 1717, 8vo; another edition, London, 1781, 8vo), the music for which was composed by John Ernest Galliard, was performed at the Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket, in spite of the strenuous opposition of most of the Italian performers to a musical entertainment in the English language. In 1715 he published ‘The Works of Mr. Edmund Spenser … with a Glossary explaining the old and obscure words’ (London, 8vo, 6 vols.; another edition, London, 1750, 12mo, 6vols.) Hughes was a constant invalid, and during the greater part of his life was in narrow circumstances. In 1717, however, he was appointed by Lord-chancellor Cowper secretary to the commissions of the peace in the court of chancery, a post which procured him independence for the remainder of his life. His finely written and successful tragedy, ‘The Siege of Damascus,’ was his best, as well as his last work (London, 1720, 8vo; other editions, London, 1770, 12mo, and London, 1778, 8vo; reprinted in Bell's ‘British Theatre,’ vol. i., London, 1776, 8vo, and several other collections of plays; translated into French in ‘Le Théâtre Anglois,’ tom.7, London,1749, 12mo). The play, the plot of which was obviously suggested by Sir William D'Avenant's ‘Siege,’ was dedicated to Lord Cowper, and was produced at Drury Lane Theatre on 17 Feb. 1720, and received with great applause. Hughes, who had been too ill to attend the rehearsals, died of consumption on the same night a few hours after its production, and was buried in the vault under the chancel of St. Andrew's, Holborn. His only sister, Elizabeth, married William Duncombe [q. v.] 1 Sept. 1726, and died in 1735–6. His portrait was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1718, and was given by Hughes shortly before his death to Lord Cowper (Duncombe, Letters, &c., i. 266). An engraving of this portrait by Gerard Vandergucht is prefixed to the first volume of Hughes's ‘Poems on Several Occasions,’ &c.
Johnson, in his ‘Life of Hughes,’ does not enter into any criticism of his works. Swift, in a letter to Pope, dated 3 Sept. 1735, says: ‘Hughes is too grave a poet for me, and I think among the mediocribus in prose as well as verse.’ To which Pope replied: ‘To answer your question as to Mr. Hughes; what he wanted in genius he made up as a honest man; but he was of the class you think him’ (Swift, Works, 1814, xviii. 402–3). Steele devoted the fifteenth number of ‘The Theatre’ to a panegyric of Hughes, and declared that ‘his head, hand, or heart was always employ'd in something worthy imitation; his pencil, his bow-string, or his pen, each of which he us'd in a masterly manner, were always directed to raise and entertain his own mind, or that of others, to a more cheerful prosecution of what was noble and virtuous.’ Hughes contributed to the ‘Tatler,’ ‘Spectator,’ and ‘Guardian,’ and with Sir Richard Blackmore [q. v.] wrote ‘The Lay Monk,’ a series of forty essays, the first of which was published on 16 Nov. 1713, and the last on 15 Feb. 1713–14. A second edition of these essays was published in 1714 under the title of ‘The Lay Monastery,’ &c., London, 12mo. (For lists of these contributions see Duncombe, Letters by Several Eminent Persons Deceased, i. xi–xii, 122–5, 143–144; and Chalmers, British Essayists, i. lxx–lxxi, v. li–liii, xiii. xxx, xlv–xlvi.) Several of his translations appeared in a periodical publication called ‘The Monthly Amusement.’ Hughes persuaded Addison to put his ‘Cato’ on the stage, and undertook at his request to supply the fifth act, which was, however, ultimately written by Addison himself. Hughes withdrew most of his contributions to Steele's ‘Poetical Miscellanies’ (London, 1714, 8vo) upon hearing that Pope's ‘Wife of Bath, her Prologue, from Chaucer,’ and some other pieces, which were inconsistent with his ideas of propriety, were to be included, ‘and would only allow two small poems, and those without a name, to appear there’ (Duncombe, Letters, i. xiii). Hughes was a friend of Thomas Britton [q. v.], and used to play the violin at ‘the musical small coalman's’ concerts. His ‘Venus and Adonis,’ and several other cantatas, were set to music by Handel. Pepusch and Haym also composed music for his poetical pieces.
A collection of his ‘Poems on Several Occasions, with some Select Essays in Prose,’ &c., edited by his brother-in-law, was published in 1735 (London, 12mo, 2 vols.) His poems are included in the tenth volume of Chalmers's ‘Works of the English Poets’ (1810), and in many other poetical collections. His correspondence, ‘with some pieces by Mr. Hughes never before published, and the original plan of the Siege of Damascus,’ will