Owen, John

, in Latin called Audoenus, an English epigrammatist, was born at Armon, in Caernarvonshire; | and being bred at Winchester-school, under Dr. Bilson, was chosen thence a scholar of New-college, in Oxford, of which he became probationer fellow in 1582, and actual fellow in 1584. He proceeded LL. B. in 1690, but quitting his fellowship the next year, taught school atTrylegh, near Monmouth; and about 1594 was chosen master of the free-school founded by Henry VIII. at Warwick. He generally laboured under necessitous circumstances, owing to indolence or imprudence. He had a rich uncle, upon whom lay his chief dependence, who was either a papist, or at least popishly inclined; yet, Owen’s genius being peculiarly turned for epigrams, he was not able to resist the charm of the following satirical distich upon that religion:

An fuerit Petrus Romae sub judice lis est Simonem Romae nemo fuisse negat.

"Whether at Rome Peter e’er was or no,

Is much disputed ‘still, I trow: But Simon’s being there, on neither side Was ever doubted or denied."

This he printed, among others, in 1606, at London; and the book, coming into the inquisitor’s hands at Rome, was put into the “Index Expurgatorius” on which the uncle struck him out of his will, and resolved to take no more notice of him. He often, however, experienced the kindness of his relation and countryman Williams, bishop of Lincoln, and lord keeper of the great seal, who contributed to support him several years during his life; and, after his death, which happened in 1622, erected a monument to his memory, with his bust in brass, crowned with laurel, on the pillar next to the consistory stairs at St. Paul’s cathedral, London, where he was interred. Under the bust was an epigram, intimating that his person was little as well as his fortune, and both less than his fame.

His epigrams first came out in the following order: I. *’ Epigram, lib. 3 ad Mariam Nevill comitis Dorcestrise filiam dicati, 1606,“8vo, printed twice that year. 2.Epigram, liber singularis, ad doctissimam heroinam D. Arabellam Stuart.“3.Epigram, lib. 3. ad Hen. principem Cambriae duo; ad Carolum Ebor. unus.“4.Epigram, ad tres Maecenates, libri tres, &c.“5.” Monastica quaedam Ethica et Politica veterum sapientium:“all which, coming out as successive additions to the several editions of the three first books, were at length published in one volume, 8vo and 12mo, both in England and foreign | countries. A select number of them were translated inter English verse by John Vicars, usher of Christ church hospital, London, and published in 1619. Thomas Beck also, of the Inner Temple, gent, translated 600 of them into English verse, which were printed with Martial” deSpectaculis,“or the rarities to be seen in Rome, and with the select epigrams of sir Thomas More; to which is annexed a century of heroic epigrams, all published under the title of” Parnassi Puerperium," London, 1659, 8vo. Among Owen’s epigrams, however, there are very few that are genuine. The poignant, the lively, the unexpected turn of thought and expression, which has been regularly pursued and carried to a point, is scarcely to be found in his compositions. It is evident, says Granger, from the quick sale of his book, that epigrams could please at this time, without the seasoning of Attic salt. It is wonderful, however, what consequence the foreign critics, Borrichius, Lorenzo Crasso, Baillet, and others, attached to Owen’s epigrams; and so lately as 1794, Ilenouard printed an elegant edition of them at Paris, with some copies on vellum. 1

1 Ath. Ox. vol. I.Biog. Brit, Baillet Jugements de Savans. -—Moreri. —Niceron, vol. XVI.