Francklin, Thomas

, D. D. chaplain in ordinary to his majesty, born 1721, was the son of Richard Francklin, well known as the printer of an anti-ministerial paper caUed “The Craftsman,” in the conduct of which he received great assistance from lord Bolingbroke, Mr. Pulteney, and other excellent writers, who then opposed sir Robert Waipole’s measures. By the advice of the second of these gentlemen, young Francklin was devoted to the church, with a promise of being provided for by Mr. Pulteney, who afterwards forgot his undertaking. Yet his father had a claim, from his sufferings at least, to all that these patriots could do for him. While engaged in their service, he was prosecuted by the crown several times, and had been confined several years in the King’s-bench prison for a letter written from the Hague, and printed by him at their desire. It is true, indeed, that several noblemen; and gentlemen subscribed a sum of 50l. each to Francklin, as a compensation for his losses, but it is as true that no more than three of them paid their money, of whom Mr. Pulteney was one.

Young Francklin, however, was educated at Westminster school, where he was admitted a scholar in 1735, and whence in 1739 he was elected to Trinity-college, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow. He was afterwards for some time an usher at Westminster-school, and first appeared as an author, in a translation of “Phalaris’s Epistles,1749, 8vo, and of “Cicero on the Nature of the Gods.” About the same time he is said to have published “An Inquiry into the. Astronomy and Anatomy of the Ancients,” which was reprinted in 1775, 8vo. In June 1750, he was chosen Greek professor of Cambridge, in opposition of Mr. Barford, of King’s-college, and in the same year became involved in a dispute with the university on the following occasion. On the 17th of November, he with a number of gentlemen educated at Westminster school, having met at a tavern, according to custom, to celebrate queen Elizabeth’s anniversary, they | were interrupted by the senior proctor, who came into the company after 11 o’clock at night, and ordered them to depart, it being an irregular hour. For disobeying this order, some of them were reprimanded by the vice-chancellor, and others fined. Francklin, who was one of the party, had his share in the business, and is supposed to have written a pamphlet entitled “An Authentic Narrative of the late extraordinary proceedings at Cambridge, against the Westminster Club,” Loud. 1751, 8vo, denying the charge of irregularity, and laying the blame on the proctor. This dispute engaged the attention of the university for some time, as those who plead for the relaxation of discipline will never be without abettors.

In 1753, he published a poem called “Translation,” in which he announced his intention of giving a translation of “Sophocles.” In January 1757, on the periodical paper called “The World” being finished, he engaged to publish a similar one, under the title of “The Centinel,” but after extending it to twenty-seven numbers, he was obliged to drop it for want of encouragement, The next year he published “A Fast Sermon” preached at Queen-street chapel, of which he was minister, and at St. Paul’s Coveut-garden, of which he was lecturer; and he afterwards published a few sermons on occasional topics, or for charities. In 1759 appeared his translation of “Sophocles,” 2 vols. 4to, which was allowed to be a bold and happy transfusion into the English language of the terrible simplicity of the Greek tragedian. This was followed by a “Dissertation on ancient Tragedy,” in which he mentioned Arthur Murphy by name, and in terms not the most courtly. Murphy, a man equally, or perhaps more irritable, replied in a poetical “Epistle addressed to Dr. Johnson,” who calmly permitted the combatants to settle their disputes in their own way, which, we are told, amounted to a cessation of hostilities, if not to an honourable peace. At this time Francklin is said to have been a writer in the Critical Review, which indeed is acknowledged in an article in that review, and might perhaps be deduced from, internal evidence, as, besides his intimacy with Smollet, his works are uniformly mentioned with very high praise. In 1757 he had been preferred by Trinity-college to the livings of Ware and Thundrich, in Hertfordshire, and although his mind was more intent on the stage than the pulpit, he | published in 1765 a volume of “Sermons on the relative duties,” which was well received by the publick. Next year he produced at Drury-lane theatre, the tragedy of “The Earl of Warwick,” taken, without any acknowledgement, from the French of La Harpe. In Nov. 1767, he was enrolled in the list of his majesty’s chaplains. In 1768 he published apiece of humour, without his name, entitled “A Letter to a Bishop concerning Lectureships,” exposing the paltry shifts of the candidates for this office at their elections; and next year he wrote “An Ode on the Institution of the Royal Academy.” In March of the same year, he translated Voltaire’s “Orestes” for the stage. In July 1770 he took the degree of D. D. but still debased his character by producing dramatic pieces of no great fame, and chiefly translations; “Electra,” “Matilda,” and “The Contract,” a farce. About 1776 he was presented to the living of Brasted, in Surrey, which he held until his death. He had for some years employed himself on his excellent translation of the works of *' Lucian,“which he published in 1780, in 2 vols. 4to. He was also concerned with Smollet, in a translation of Voltaire’s works, but, it is said, contributed little more than his name to the title-pages. There is a tragedy of his still in ms. entitledMary Queen of Scots.“Dr. Francklin died at his house in Great Queen-street, March 15, 1784. He was unquestionably a man of learning and abilities, but from peculiarities of temper, and literary jealousy, seems not to have been much esteemed by his contemporaries. After his death 3 volumes of his” Sermons" were published for the benefit of his widow and family. Mrs. Francklin died in May 1796. She was the daughter of Mr. Venables, a wine-merchant. 1

1 Biog. Dram, originally written by Mr. Isaac Reed, for the European Magazine. Davies’s Life of Garrick.