Thompson, Edward

, a miscellaneous writer of no great fame, was the son of a merchant at Hull, where he was born about 1738. He was educated at Beverley, under the Rev. Mr. Clarke, and thence removed to Hampstead, unHer the care of Dr. Cox. He early embraced a maritime life, and in 1750 sailed on a voyage to Greenland. In 1754 he was engaged on board an Indiaman, and | became what is called “a guinea pig,” though other accounts say that he went to the East Indies with sir Peter Dennis, on board the Dorsetshire, and was in the memorable action off Quiheron Bay. By his “Sailor’s Letters,” it appears that he was at Madras, Ceylon, and Bengal. In 1759 he was engaged in Hawke’s celebrated battle with Gentians. His other naval movements seem to have been of little importance*, and on the peace in 1762 he became unemployed He now wrote a licentious poem, celebrating the most remarkable women of the town, which he published under the title of the “Meretriciad.” This seems to have been the means of introducing him to the acquaintance of Churchill, with whom he boasts on many occasions to have lived on terms of intimacy, and with whose principles, political and moral, he appears to have been at perfect agreement. Of this, his subsequent poems, “The Soldier,” “The Courtezan,” and the “Demirep,” afford sufficient proof. In 1765, he was more laudably employed in soliciting parliament for an increase of half-pay for the lieutenants of the navy, an application which was attended with success.

In 1767 he published his “Sailor’s Letters,” 2 vols. 12mo, in which there are many particulars of his life, from 1754 to 1759, told in a rambling and desultory manner. He afterwards edited the works of Oldham in 3 vols. and in 1777, those of Paul Whitehead, in one vol. 4to, and of Andrew Marvell, in 3 vols, 4to, none of which added much to his reputation, either for judgment or correctness. When the war with France commenced, he was, in 1778, appointed to the command of the Hyaena, and was in Rodney’s famous action off Cape St. Vincent, of which he is said to have brought home the intelligence; but this, and other accounts of his progress, as related by his biographer, are certainly erroneous. There was a capt. Thompson, of the America, who brought home the news of Rodney’s having captured a valuable Spanish convoy, but this was capt. Samuel Thompson, a much older officer; and as to Rodney’s action off Cape St. Vincent, a reference to the Gazette will show that it was capt. Uvedale of the Ajax; who brought home that intelligence. We are told, which may be correct, that he was soon afterwards appointed commodore of an expedition against Demerara, and afterwards


They might still have been detailed if we had not discovered such inaccuracies in our authorities, as ren­ dered it a difficult matter to separate truth from error.

| conveyed home a fleet of merchantmen from St. Eustathius. In 1785 he was appointed commander of the Grampus, and sent to the coast of Africa, where he died on board of his ship, Jan. 17, 1786. He was considered as a brave and skilful commander, and had that infallible test of merit, the affection of his crew. It must also be noticed to his honour that when he acquired some degree of opulence, he with great alacrity and liberality repaid his obligations to many persons who had before assisted him. The most impartial of his biographers concludes with observing that “the merits by which capt. Thompson will be best known to posterity, are his sea songs, which are still on every one’s lips: more especially those three beautiful and affecting compositions, beginning” Loose every sail to the breeze,“” The topsail shivers in the wind,“and” Behold upon the gallant wave." 1

Censura Literaria, vol. IV.—Biog. Dram.