Mayn Waring, Arthur

, esq. a political and miscellaneous writer, descended from an ancient family in Shropshire, was born at Ightfield in that county in 166S. He was instructed in grammar learning at Shrewsbury, and thence removed, at seventeen, to Christ-church, Oxford; where he was placed under the care of Smalridge, afterwards bishop of Bristol. He staid several years at Oxford, and then went into the country, where he prosecuted his studies in polite literature with great vigour; and afterwards, coming to London, applied himself to the law. During his residence in the country, he had contracted from an uncle, with whom he lived, an extreme aversion to the government of king William, which he displayed in a satire against king William and queen Mary, entitled “Tarquin and Tullia,” printed in the “State Poems,” vol. III. p. 319. He also wrote several pieces in favour of James the Second’s party but, upon being | introduced to the acquaintance of the duke of Somerset, and the earls of Dorset and Burlington, he began to entertain very different notions in politics. He studied the law till he was five-and-twenty; and, upon the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick, went to Paris, where be became acquainted with Boileau. That poet invited him to his country-house, gave him a very handsome entertainment, and spoke much to him of the English poetry; but all by way of inquiry: for he affected to be as ignorant of the English Muse, as if the English were as barbarous as Laplanders. Thus a gentleman, a friend of Maynwaring’s, visiting him some time after, upon the death of Dryden, Boileau said that he was wonderfully pleased to see, by the public papers, that the English nation had paid such extraordinary honours to a poet in England, burying him at the public charge; and then asked the gentleman who that poet was, with as much indifference as if he had never heard of Dryden’s name.

After his return from France, he was made one of the commissioners of the customs, in which office he distinguished himself by his skill and fidelity. Of the latter, Oldmixon gives a remarkable instance, in his treatment of a person who solicited to be a tide-waiter. This man, understanding that Mr. May 11 waring had the best interest at the board of any of the commissioners, with the lords of the treasury, left a letter for him with a purse of fifty guineas, desiring his favour towards obtaining the place for which he applied. After that, he delivered a petition to the board, which was read, and several of the commissioners spoke on the subject; upon which Mr. Maynwaring took out the purse of fifty guineas, and the letter, and told them, that, “as long as he -could help it, that man should never have this nor any other place.” In the beginning of queen Anne’s reign, he was made auditor of the imprests, by the lord -treasurer Godolphin, an office worth 2000l. per annum in a time of business. In the parliament which met in 1705, he was chosen a burgess for Preston in Lancashire. He died at St. Alban’s, Nov. 13, 1712, leaving Mrs. Oldfield, the celebrated actress, his executrix. This lady had lived with him as his mistress, and by her he had a son, named Arthur Maynwaring. He divided his estate, which did not amount to much more than 3000l. equally between that child, Mrs. Oldfield, and his sister. He published a great number of compositions | in verse and prose, which gained him credit and reputation. Sir Richard Steele dedicated to him the first volume of the Tatler. Even his adversaries could not deny him merit. Thus the Examiner, his antagonist in politics, allowed that he wrote with “a tolerable spirit, and in a masterly style.” He was severely reflected upon for his will, particularly by the “Examiner;” in answer to which, there came out a paper, two months after his death, in defence of him; and this defence was in a few days followed by another, in a letter to a friend, supposed to be written by Robert Walpole, esq. In 1715 Mr. Oldmixon published “The Life and Posthumous Works of Arthur Maynwaring, esq. containing several original pieces and translations, in prose and verse, never before published,” 8vo, dedicated to sir Robert Walpole, of whom Mr. Maynwaring was a firm adherent, and, according to Mr. Coxe, the first who predicted the figure that statesman would one day make. This volume contains many curious particulars of the political history of the times; but, like all Oldmixon’s writings, must be read with caution. 1

1 Life prefixed to his Works. Biog. Brit.