Madden, Samuel

, D. D. (“a name,” says Dr. Johnson, “which Ireland ought to honour,”) was born in 1687, and received his education at Dublin. He appears, however, to have been in England in 1729; and having written a tragedy called “Themistocles, or the Lover of his country,” was, as he himself says, tempted to let it appear, by the offer of a noble study of books from the profits of it. In 1731, he projected a scheme for promoting learning in the college of Dublin by premiums, at the quarterly examinations, which has proved highly beneficial. In 1732, he published his “Memoirs of the Twentieth Century; being original Letters of State under George the Sixth, relating to the most important events in Great-Britain, and Europe, as to church and state, arts and sciences, trade, taxes, and treaties, peace and war, and characters of the greatest persons of those times, from the middle of the eighteenth to the end of the twentieth century, and the world. Received and revealed in the year 1728; and now published, for the instruction of all eminent statesmen, churchmen, patriots, politicians, projectors, papists, and protestants.” In 6 vols. Lond. 1733, 8vo. *


There is something mysterious in the history of this work, of which only one volume has appeared, and whether any more were really intended is uncertain. A thousand copies were printed with such very great dispatch, that three printers were emp!oyed on it (Bowyer, Woodfall, and Roberts); and the names of an uncommon number of reputable booksellers in the title-page. The current report is, that the edition was suppressed on the day of publication; and that it is now exceedingly scarce, is certain. The whole of the business was transacted by Mr. Bowyer, without either of the other printers ever seeing the author; a number of them was delivered to the several booksellers mentioned in the title-page and in four days after, all that were unsold were recalled, and 890 of them were given up to Dr. Madden, to be destroyed. Mr. Tutet, who had a copy of this curiosity, never heard but of one other, though he frequently inquired after it. Mr. Bindley, however, has a copy.

In 1740, we find him in his native country, and in that year setting apart the annual sum of one hundred pounds to be distributed, by way of premium, to the inhabitants of Ireland only; namely, 50l. to the author of the best invention for improving any useful art or manufacture; 25l. to the per-> son who should execute the best statue or piece of sculpture; and 25l. to the person who should finish the best piece of painting, either in history or landscape the premiums to be decided by the Dublin society, of which Dr. Madden was the institutor. The good effects of these well applied benefactions have not only been felt to advantage in the kingdom where they were given, but have even | extended their influence to its sister country, having giren rise to the society for the encouragement of arts and sciences in London. In 1743 or 4, he published a long poem, called “Boulter’s Monument;” which was corrected for the press by Dr. Johnson; and an epistle of about 200 lines by him is prefixed to the second edition of Leland’s “Life of Philip of Macedon.” In an oration spoken at Dublin, Dec. 6, 1757, by Mr. Sheridan, that gentleman took occasion to mention Dr. Madden’s bounty, and intended to have proceeded in the following manner, but was prevented by observing the doctor to be then present. Speaking of the admirable institutions of premiums, he went on, “Whose author, had he never contributed any thing farther to the good of his country, would have deserved immortal honour, and must have been held in reverence by the latest posterity. But the unwearied and disinterested endeavours, during a long course of years, of this truly good man, in a variety of branches, to promote industry, and consequently the welfare of this kingdom, and the mighty benefits which have thence resulted to the community, have made many of the good people of Ireland sorry, that a long-talked of scheme has not hitherto been put in execution: that we might not appear inferior in point of gratitude to the citizens of London, with respect to a fellow-citizen [sir John Barnard], (surely not with more reason,) and that like them we might be able to address our patriot, Praesenti tibi matures largimur honores.

Dr. Madden had some good church preferment in Ireland, particularly a deanery, we know not which, and the living of Drummully, worth about 400l. a year, the right of presentation to which was divided between his own family, and another. As his family had presented on the last vacancy, the other of course had a right to present now; but the Maddens offering to give up all right of presentation in future, if allowed to present on the present occasion, this was agreed to, and thus the Doctor got the living. At what time this occurred we are not told, but he was then a colonel of militia, and was in Dublin dressed in scarlet. Besides this living, he had a very good estate; but as he was almost entirely devoted to books, or acts of charity and public good, he left the management of his income, both ecclesiastical and temporal, to his wife, a lady of a somewhat different turn of mind. They lived at | Manor-water-house, three miles from Newtown-Botler; and the celebrated rev. Philip Skelton lived with them for some time, as tutor to the children. Dr. Madden also gave him the curacy of Newtown-Butler.

Dr Madden died Dec. 30, 1765. There is a fine mezzotinto of him, a whole length by J. Brooks, and a later, by Richard Purcell, from a painting by Robert Hunter.

Mons. Grosley, a lively French traveller, speaking of a city in the centre of France, “which at the beginning of the fifteenth century served as a theatre to the grandest scene that England ever acted in that kingdom,” mentions several English families as lately extinct, or still subsisting there. “This city,” he adds, “in return, has given the British dominions an illustrious personage, to whom they are indebted for the first prizes which have been there distributed for the encouragement of agriculture and arts. His name was Madain: being thrown upon the coast of Ireland by events of which I could never hear any satisfactory account, he settled in Dublin by the name of Madden, there made a fortune, dedicated part of his estate, which amounted to four or five thousand pounds a year, to the prizes which I have spoken of, and left a rich succession part of this succession went over to France to the Madains his relations, who commenced a law-suit for the recovery of it, and caused ecclesiastical censures to be published against a merchant, to whom they had sent a letter of attorney to act for them, and whom they accused of having appropriated to himself a share of their inheritance.1

1 Nichols’s Bowyer. Bowell’s Life of Johnson. Burdy’s Life of Skelton, pp. 28,