Miller, James

, a political and dramatic writer, the son of a clergyman who possessed two livings of considerable value in Dorsetshire, was born in 1703, and received his education at Wadham college, in Oxford. His natural genius and turn for satire led him, by way of relaxation from his more serious studies, to apply some portion of his time to the Muses; and, during his residence at the university, he composed great part of a comedy, called the “Humours of Oxford;” some of the characters in which being either designed for, or bearing a strong resemblance to, persons resident in Oxford, gave considerable umbrage, created the author many enemies, and | probably laid the foundation of the greatest part of his misfortunes through life. On quitting the university, he entered into holy orders, and obtained immediately the lectureship of Trinity Chapel in Conduit-street, and was appointed preacher at the private chapel at Roehampton in Surrey.

The emoluments of his preferment, however, being not very considerable, he was encouraged, by the success of his first play, above mentioned, to have recourse to dramatic writing. This step being thought inconsistent with his profession, produced some warm remonstrances from a prelate on whom he relied for preferment, and who, finding him resolute, withdrew his patronage. Our author greatly aggravated his offence afterwards by publishing a ridiculous character, in a poem, which was universally considered as intended for the bishop. He then proceeded with his dramatic productions, and was very successful, until he happened to offend certain play-house critics, who from that time regularly attended the theatre to oppose any production known to be his, and finally drove him from the stage. About this time he had strong temptations to employ his pen in the whig interest; but, being in principle a high church-man, he withstood these, although the calls of a family were particularly urgent, and all hopes of advancement in the church at an end. At length, however, the valuable living of Upcerne was given him by Mr. Carey of Dorsetshire, and his prospects otherwise began to brighten, when he died April 23, 1744, at his lodgings in Cheyne-walk, Chelsea, before he had received a twelvemonth’s revenue from his new benefice, or had it in his power to make any provision for his family. As a dramatic writer, Baker thinks he has a right to stand in a very estimable light; yet the plays he enumerates are now entirelyforgotten. Besides these, he wrote several political pamphlets, particularly one called “Are these things so” which was much noticed. He was author also of a poem called “Harlequin Horace,” a satire, occasioned by some ill treatment he had received from Mr. Rich, the manager of Covent- Garden theatre; and was likewise concerned, together with Mr. Henry Baker, F. R. S. in a complete translation of the comedies of Moliere, primed together with the original French, and published by Mr. Watts. After his death was published by subscription a volume of his “Sermons,” the profits of which his widow applied to the satisfaction of his creditors, | and the payment of his debts; an act of juctice by which t>he left herself and family almost destitute of the common necessaries of life.

As a man, says Baker, Mr. Miller’s character may partly be deduced from the foregoing relation of his life. He was firm and stedfast in his principles, ardent in his friendships, and somewhat precipitate in his resentments. In his conversation he was sprightly, chearful, and a great master of ready repartee, till towards the latter part of his Jife, when a depression of circumstances threw a gloom and hypochondria over his temper, which got the better of his natural gaiety and disposition. 1


Biog. Dram. —Cibber's Lives.