Carey, Henry

, a musical composer and poet, once of great popular reputation, was an illegitimate son of George Savile, marquis of Halifax, who had the honour of presenting the crown to William III. Carey is said to have received an annuity from a branch of that family till the day of his death, and he annexed the name of Savile to the Christian names of all the male part of his own family. At what period he was born is not known. His first lessons in music he had from one Lennert, a German, and had somje instructions also from Roseingrave and Gecniniani, but he never attained much depth in the science. The extent of Jlis abilities seerns to have been the composition of a ballad air, or at most a little cantata, to which he was just able to set a bass yet if mere popularity be the test of genius, Carey was one of the first in his time. His chief | employment was teaching the boarding-schools, and among people of middling rank in private families, before tradesmen’s daughters, destined to be tradesmen’s wives, were put under the tuition of the first professors.

Though Carey had but little skill in music, he had a prolific invention, and very early in his life distinguished himself by the composition of songs, being the author both of the words and music. One of these, beginning “Of all the girls that are so smart,” and since its late revival, known by the name of “Sally in our alley,” he set to an air so very pleasant and original, as still to retain its popular character. Addison praised it for the poetry, and Genii niani for the tune. In 1715 he produced two farces, one of which, “The Contrivances,” had considerable success. In 1720 he published a small collection of “Poems;” and in 1722, a farce called “Hanging and Marriage.” In 1732 he published six “Cantatas,” written and composed by himself; and about the same time composed several songs for the “Provoked Husband” and other modern comedies. In 1729, he published, by subscription, his poems much enlarged, with the addition of one entitled “Namby Pamby,” in ridicule of Ambrose Phillips’s lines on the infant daughter of lord Carteret. Carey’s talent lay in broad, burlesque humour; and in ridicule of the bombast of modern tragedies, he produced his “Chrononhotonthologos,*' in 1734, which will always be in season, as long as extravagance and bombast are encouraged on the stage. He also wrote a farce called the” Honest Yorkshireman,“which was very successful: two interludes,Nancy,“and 46 Thomas and Sally,” and two serious operas, “Amelia,” set to music by John Frederic Lampe, and “Teraminta,” by John Christopher Smith, Handel’s disciple, friend, and successor, in superintending the performance of oratorios. The year 1737 was rendered memorable at Coventgarden theatre by the success of the burlesque opera of the “Dragon of Wantley,” written by Carey, and set by Lampe, “after the Italian manner.” This excellent piece of humour had run twenty-two nights, when it was stopped, with all other public amusements, by the death of her majesty queen Caroline, November 20, but was resumed again on the opening of the theatres in January following, and supported as many representations as the Beggar’s Opera had done, ten years before. And if Gay’s original intention in writing his musicaldrama was to ridicule the | opera, the execution of his plan was not so happy as that of Carey; in which the mock heroic, tuneful monster, recitative, splendid habits, and style of music, all conspired toremind the audience of what they had seen and heard at the lyric theatre, more effectually than the most vulgar street tunes could do; and much more innocently than the tricks and transactions of abandoned thieves and prostitutes. Lampe’s music to this farcical drama, was not only excellent fifty years ago, but is still modern and in good taste. In 1738, “Margery, or the Dragoness,” a sequel to the “Dragon of Wantley,” written with equal humour, and as well set by Lampe, came out; but had the fate of all sequels. When the novelty of a subject is faded away, and the characters have been developed, it is difficult to revive the curiosity of the public about persons and things of which opinions are already formed. The “Dragoness” appeared but few nights, and was never revived.

As Carey was an entertaining companion, he shared the fate of those who mistake the roar of the table for friendship. At first, however, he was not altogether disappointed. The publication of his songs in 1740 in a collection entitled “The Musical Century,” and of his dramatic works in 1743, in a small quarto volume, was encouraged by a numerous subscription. But he who administered to the mirth of others, was himself unhappy; and whether from embarrassed circumstances, domestic uneasiness, or, as has been supposed, the malevolence of some of his own profession, he sunk into despondency, and put an end to his life by a cord, Oct. 4, 1743, at his house in Warner- street, Cold Bath Fields. Carey’s humour, however low, was never offensive to decency, and all his songs have a moral or patriotic tendency. As to his claim to the honour of having composed our great national air of “God save the King,” which his son, the subject of the next article, frequently brought forward, Dr. Burney is of opinion that it was of prior date, written for James II. while the prince of Orange was hovering over the coast; and when the latter became king, was forgot. It is certain that in 1745, when Dr. Arne harmonized it for Drury-lane theatre, and Dr. Burney for Covent-garden, the original author of the melody was wholly unknown. The writer of a “Succinct Account” of Carey, says that he was the principal projector of the fund for decayed musicians, which was held, | when first established, at the Turk’s head in Gerrard- street, Soho. 1


Hawkins and Bnrney’s Hist, of Music, and the latter in Ree’s Cyclopædia. Gent. Mf. vol. LXV. p. 544. Biograplna Dramatica.