Concanen, Matthew

, a miscellaneous writer of some note in his day, was born in Ireland, and bred to the law, in which we do not find that he ever made any great figure. From thence he came over to London, in company with a Mr. Stirling, a dramatic poet of little note, to seek his fortune; and finding nothing so profitable, and so likely to recommend him to public notice, as political writing, he soon commenced an advocate for the government. There goes a story of him, however, but we will | hope it is not a true one, that he and his fellow-traveller, who was embarked in the same adventure, for the sake of making their trade more profitable, resolved to divide their interests; the one to oppose, the other to defend the ministry. Upon which they determined the side each was to espouse by lots, or, according to Mr. Reed’s account, by tossing up a halfpenny, when it fell to Concanen’s part to defend the ministry. Stirling afterwards went into orders, and became a clergyman in Maryland. Concanen was for some time concerned in the “British” and “London Journals,” and in a paper called “The Specnlatist,” which last was published in 1730, 8vo. In these he took occasion to abuse not only lord Bolingbroke, who was naturally the object of it, but also Pope; by which he procured a place in the Dvwiciad. In a pamphlet called “A Supplement to the Profound,” he dealt very unfairly by Pope, as Pope’s commentator informs us, in not only frequently imputing to him Broome’s verses (for which, says he, he might seem in some degree accountable, having corrected what that gentleman did), but those of the duke of Buckingham and others. His wit and literary abilities, however, recommended him to the favour of the duke of Newcastle, through whose interest he obtained the post of attorney-general of the island of Jamaica in 1732, which office he filled with the utmost integrity and honour, and to the perfect satisfaction of the inhabitants, for near seventeen years; when, having acquired an ample fortune, he was desirous of passing the close of his life in his native country; with which intention he quitted Jamaica and came to London, proposing to pass some little time there before he went to settle entirely in Ireland. But the difference of climate between that metropolis and the place he had so long been accustomed to, had such an effect on his constitution, that he fell into a consumption, of which he died Jan. 22, 1749, a few weeks after his arrival in London. His original poems, though short, have considerable merit; but much cannot be said of his play, entitled “Wexford Wells.” He was also concerned with Mr. Roome and other gentlemen in altering Richard Broome’s “Jovial Crew” into a ballad opera, in which shape it is now frequently performed. Concanen has several songs in “The Musical Miscellany, 1729,” 6 vols. But a memofable letter addressed to him by Dr. Warburton will perhaps be remembered longer than any writing of his own | pen. This letter^ which Mr. Malone first published (in his Supplement to Shakspeare, vol. I. p. 222), shews that, in 1726, Warbtirton, then an attorney at Newark, was intimate with Concanen, and an associate in the attacks made on Pope’s fame and talents. In 1724, Concanen published 3, volume of “Miscellaneous Poems, original and translated,” by himself and others. 1

1

Biog. Dram. Gibber’s Lives. Warburton’s Letters, 4to, p 159, 160.-*­Nichols’s Bowyer. Reed’s ms Notes on a copy of the Speeulatist.