Jones, Henry

, a dramatic writer, was a native of Drogheda, in Ireland, and was bred a bricklayer; but, having a natural inclination for the muses, pursued his devotions to them even during the labours of his mere mechanical avocations, and composing a line of brick and a line of verse alternately, his walls and poems rose in growth together, but not with equal degrees of durability. His turn, as is most generally the case with mean poets, or bards of humble origin, was panegyric. This procured him some friends; and, in 1745, when the earl of Chesterfield went over to Ireland as lord-lieutenant, Mr. Jones was recommended to the notice of that nobleman, who, delighted with the discovery of this mechanic muse, not only favoured him with his own notice and generous munificence, but also thought proper to transplant this opening flower into a warmer and more thriving climate. He brought him with him to England, recommended him to many of the nobility there, and not only procured him a large subscription for the publishing a collection of his “Poems,” but it is said, even took on himself the alteration and correction, of his tragedy, and also the care of prevailing on the managers of Covent-garden theatre to bring it on the stage. This nobleman also recommended him in the warmest manner to Colley Gibber, whose friendly and humane disposition induced him to shew him a thousand acts of friendship, and even made strong efforts by his interest at court to have secured to him the succession of the laurel after his death. With these favourable prospects it might have been expected that Jones would have passed through life with so much decency as to have ensured his own happiness, and done credit to the partiality of his friends; but this was not the case. “His temper,” says one, who seems to have known him, “was, in consequence of the dominion of his passions, uncertain and capricious; easily engaged, and easily disgusted; and, as ceconomy was a virtue which could never be taken into his catalogue, he | appeared to think himself born rather to be supported by others than under a duty to secure to himself the profits which his writings and the munificence of his patrons from time to time afforded.” After experiencing many reverses of fortune, which an overbearing spirit, and an imprudence in regard to pecuniary concerns, consequently drew on him, he died in great want, in April 1770, in a garret belonging to the master of the Bedford coffee-house, by whose charity he had been some time supported, leaving an example to those of superior capacities and attainments, who, despising the common maxims of life, often feel the want of not pursuing them when it is too late. His principal performance, “The Earl of Essex,” appeared in 1753, and he also left a tragedy unfinished, called “The Cave of Idra,” which falling into the hands of Dr. Hiffernan, he enlarged it to five acts, and brought it out under the title of “The Heroine of the Cave.” His last publications were, “Merit” “The Relief;” and “Vectis, or the Isle of Wight,” poems but his poetical worth, though not contemptible, was far from being of the first-rate kind. 1


Bio. Dram.