Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/229

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


by Profession or Trade stated,’ which was published anonymously in 1758. It is a diffuse and rambling performance, but curious as perhaps the first protest raised in the eighteenth century against the treatment of authors and dramatists by booksellers and theatre managers. Ralph did not spare Garrick himself, and the latter resented the ingratitude of the man whom, besides other benefits, he had helped to a pension. Ralph complains bitterly that authors should be vilified because they write for money, but he ignored the fact, illustrated in his own career, that their pens were too often at the command of the highest bidders for their political support. His only suggestion for mitigating the practical grievances of the author and the dramatist was that authors should form a combination against booksellers, and that the selection of dramas for stage representation should be entrusted to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Literature, now the Society of Arts. After several years of martyrdom to the gout, Ralph died at Chiswick on 24 Jan. 1762.

Ralph is said to have been one of the friends who assisted Hogarth, his neighbour, at Chiswick, in the composition of the ‘Analysis of Beauty,’ 1753 [see Hogarth, George, (1697–1764)]. On the authority of Thomas Hollis, ‘The Groans of Germany,’ 1741, a pamphlet very popular at the time (‘translated from the original lately published at The Hague’), is ascribed to Ralph, but internal evidence is against his authorship. Ralph was not responsible for another work generally ascribed to him, ‘A Critical Review of the Public Buildings of London and Westminster,’ 1734, which went through several editions (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vi. 72).

The following publications by Ralph have not been already mentioned: 1. ‘The Muse's Address to the King,’ an ode, 1728. 2. ‘The Tempest, or the Terrors of Death,’ a poem, 1728. 3. ‘Clarinda, or the Fair Libertine,’ a poem, 1729. 4. ‘Zeuma, or the Love of Liberty,’ a poem, 1729. 5. ‘Miscellaneous Poems by several hands, published by Mr. Ralph,’ 1729. 6. ‘Fall of the Earl of Essex,’ a tragedy, 1731 (altered from Banks's ‘Unhappy Favourite’). 7. ‘The Lawyer's Feast,’ a farce, 1744 (taken from Beaumont and Fletcher's ‘Spanish Curate’). 8. ‘The Astrologer,’ a comedy, 1744 (taken from Albumazar).

After Ralph's death Seward, in the supplement to his ‘Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons’ (ed. of 1797, v. 113), states that Frederick, prince of Wales [q. v.], had written memoirs of his own time, under the name of Prince Titi. They were found, it was added, among Ralph's papers, and were given by his executor (Dr. Rose of Chiswick) to a ‘nobleman in great favour at Carlton House,’ presumably the Earl of Bute. According to a statement made in ‘The Gentleman's Magazine’ for May 1800, by Samuel Ayscough, assistant librarian of the British Museum, Dr. Rose of Chiswick, Ralph's executor, was informed by Ralph when dying that in a certain box he would find papers which had been given to him by Prince Frederick, and which would provide a sufficient provision for his (Ralph's) family. These papers, it was alleged, proved to be the ‘History of Prince Titus’ (sic), drawn up by Prince Frederick in conjunction with the Earl of B[ute]. Ayscough states further that Rose was cordially thanked for surrendering the papers, and as a result a pension of 150l. a year was given by George III to Ralph's daughter. Seward's narrative was reproduced in Park's edition (1806) of Walpole's ‘Royal and Noble Authors,’ i. 171, and its ‘general tenor’ was confirmed by Dr. Rose himself, with whom Park communicated on the subject. In Falkner's ‘Brentford, Ealing, and Chiswick’ (1845, p. 355), the ‘History of Prince Titi,’ which is said to have been found among Ralph's papers, becomes ‘a private and bitter correspondence’ between George II and Prince Frederick.

There was published anonymously at Paris in 1736 the ‘Histoire du Prince Titi, A. R.’ (letters supposed to stand for Allégorie Royale), written by Thémiseul de St. Hyacinthe, a French literary adventurer of some note who had been a resident in London (Texte, Cosmopolitisme Littéraire, 1895, p. 21). Two English translations of it were issued in London in 1736. Undoubtedly in the earlier part of the volume the characters might have been designed in order to flatter Prince Frederick, and to represent his father and mother in a very unfavourable light, but the story soon becomes an ordinary fairy tale. In ‘Notes and Queries’ (6th ser. x. 70–2), Mr. Edward Solly suggested that there had been in existence a manuscript history of Prince Titus, satirising George II and Queen Caroline throughout; that Ralph was somehow connected with it; that, it having been desirable to suppress this full-bodied chronicle, Ralph was ‘employed to get the pithless history published;’ and that the papers of his delivered after his death to Lord Bute, as the confidential friend of the Princess Dowager of Wales, Prince Frederick's mother, contained a transcript of the original and dangerous manuscript. But as Ralph's intercourse with Prince Frederick did not begin until many years after the publication of the ‘Histoire du Prince Titi’ in 1736, it is very unlikely