Gordon, Thomas

, a native of Scotland, and onc distinguished by his party writings on political and religious subjects, was born at Kircudbright in Galloway, about th fend of the seventeenth century. He had an university education, and went through the common course of aca* demical studies; but whether at Aberdeen or St. Andrew’s is uncertain. When a young man he came to London, and at first supported himself by teaching the languages, but afterwards commenced party writer, and was employed by the earl of Oxford in queen Anne’s time; but we know not in what capacity. He first distinguished himself in the Bangorian controversy by two pamphlets in defence of Hoadly, which recommended him to Mr. Tjrenchard, an author of the same stamp, who took him into his house, at first as his amanuensis, and afterwards into partnership, as an author. In 1720, they began to publish, in conjunction, a series of letters, under the name of “Cato,” upon various and important subjects relating to the public. About the same time they published another periodical paper, under the title of “The Independent Whig,” which was continued some years after Trenchard’s death by Gordon alone. The same spirit which appears, with more decent language, in Cato’s letters against the administration in the state, shews itself in this work in much more glaring colours against the hierarchy in the church. It is, in truth, a gross and indecent libel on the established religion, which, however, Gordon was admirably qualified to write, as he had no religion of his own to check his intemperate sallies. After Trenchard’s death, the minister, sir Robert Walpole, knowing his popular talents, took him into pay to defend his measures, for which end he wrote several pamphlets. At the time of his death, July 28, 1750, he was first commissioner of the wine-licences, an office which he had enjoyed many years, and which diminished his patriotism surprisingly. He was twice married. His second wife was the widow of his friend Trenchard by whom he had children, and who survived him. Two collections of his tracts have been preserved the first entitled, “A Cordial for Low-spirits,” in three volumes; and the second, “The Pillars of Priestcraft and | Orthodoxy shaken,” in two volumes. But these, like many other posthumous pieces, had better have been suppressed. His translations of Sallust and Tacitus, now, perhaps, contribute more to preserve his name, although without conferring much reputation on it. His Tacitus appeared in 2 vols. fol. in 1728, with discourses taken from foreign commentators and translators of that historian. Sir Robert Walpole patronised a subscription for the work, which was very successful; but no classic was perhaps ever so miserably mangled. His style is extremely vulgar, yet affected, and abounds with abrupt and inharmonious periods, totally destitute of any resemblance to the original, while the translator fancied he was giving a correct imitation. 1


Biog. Brit. art. Trenchar^. Whiston’s ms notes on the first edition of this Dictionary.