Davies, Thomas

, a man of considerable talents, and who prided himself on being through life “a companion of his superiors,” was born about 1712. In 1728 and 1729 he was at the university of Edinburgh, completing his education, and became, as Dr. Johnson used to say of him, “learned enough for a clergyman.” That, however, was not his destination, for in 1736 we find him among the dramatis personae of Lillo’s celebrated tragedy of “Fatal Curiosity,” at the theatre in the Hay market, where he was the original representative of young Wilmot, under the management of Henry Fielding. He afterwards commenced bookseller in Duke’s court, opposite the church of St. Martin-in-the-fields, and afterwards in Round court in the Strand, but met with misfortunes which induced him to return to the theatre. For several years he belonged to various companies at York, Dublin, and other places, particularly at Edinburgh, where he appears to have been at one time the manager of the theatre. At York he married miss Yarrow, daughter of a performer there, whose beauty was not more remarkable than the blamelessness of her conduct and the amiableness of her | manners. In 1753 he returned to London, and with Mrs. Davies was engaged at Drury-lane, where they remained for several years in good estimation with the town, and played many characters, if not with great excellence, at least with propriety and decency. Churchill, in his indiscriminate satire, has attempted to fix some degree of ridicule on Mr. Davies’s performance, which, just or not, had the effect of driving him from the stage, which about 1762 he exchanged for a shop in Russel-street, Covent Garden; but his efforts in trade were not crowned with the success which his abilities in his profession merited. In 1778 he became a bankrupt; when, such was the regard enterr tained for him by his friends, that they readily consented to his re-establishment; and none of them, as he says himself, were more active to serve him than those who had suffered most by his misfortunes. Yet, all their efforts might possibly have been fruitless if his powerful and firm friend Dr. Johnson had not exerted himself to the utmost in his behalf. He called upon all over whom he had any influence to assist Tom Davies; and prevailed on. Mr. Sheridan, patentee of Drury-lane theatre, to give him a benefit, which he granted on the most liberal terms. In. 1780, by a well-timed publication, the “Life of David Garrick,” which has passed through several editions, Mr. Davies acquired much fame, and some money. He afterwards published “Dramatic Miscellanies,” if) 3 yols. of which a second edition appeared a few days only before the author’s death. His other works are, 1. “Some Memoirs of Mr. Henderson.” 2. “A Review of lord Chesterfield’s Characters.” 3. A “Life of Massinger.” 4. Lives of Dr. John Eacharo, sir John Davies, and Mr. Lillo, prefixed to editions of their works, published by Mr. Davies; and fugitive pieces without number in prose and verse in the St. James’s Chronicle, and almost all the public newspapers. The compiler of this article in the last edition of this Dictionary, informs us that he “knew him well, and has passed many convivial hours in his company at a social meeting, where his lively sallies of pleasantry used to set the table in a roar of harmless merriment. The last time he visited them he wore the appearance of a spectre; and, sensible of his approaching end, took a solemn valediction of all the company.” Mr. Davies died the 5th of May, 1785, and was buried, by his own desire, in the vault of St. Paul, Covent Garden, close by the side | of his next door neighbour, the late Mr. Grignion, watchmaker. Mrs. Davies died Feb. 9, 1801. Tom Davies, as he was familiarly called, was a good-natured and conscientious man in business as in private life, but his theatrical bias created a levity not consistent with prudence. Had he been rich, he would have been liberal: Dr. Campbell used to say he was not a bookseller, but a gentleman who dealt in books" 1

1

Nichols’s Bowyer. —Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Granger’s Letters, by MaU r.lm, p. 1669.