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New Light on John Hoadly and His `Poems Set to Music by Dr. Greene'
H. Diack Johnstone

It was Keith Maslen who, in the pages of this journal, first drew attention to a small but nonetheless interesting volume of poems by John Hoadly (1711-76) which is now in the rare books collection of the University of Otago library and whose contents are said (on its front cover) to have been `Set to Music by Dr. Greene'. 1 This consists partly of printed libretti (with autograph additions) and partly of libretti in the poet's own hand. As a musicologist long concerned with the wok of Maurice Greene (1696-1755), I was naturally intrigued, and in a companion piece published two years later I sought to fill in some of the musical background; 2 neither could I resist the temptation to speculate on what other Hoadly verse known to have been set by Greene might possibly have appeared in the now missing section of this volume. The two men had known each other well since 1730 at least, in which year Greene took a doctorate of music at Cambridge, and Hoadly, his junior by fifteen years, went up to Corpus Christi College (Cambridge) to read law. Shortly after he came down (in 1735) John Hoadly became a clergyman, chiefly, it is said, to avail himself of the rich patronage at his father's disposal. 3 He was also passionately interested in the theatre, and, already intimate with Hogarth, he later on—in the 1740s—became good friends with David Garrick and James (`Hermes') Harris as well. For Greene, he produced not only a great many song texts, but also the libretti for no fewer than five major works: two pastoral operas, two oratorios and a masque. In chronological order these are Florimel or Love's Revenge (1734), Jephtha (1737), The Choice of Hercules (1740), The Force of Truth (1743) and Phoebe (1747). 4 The wordbooks were published anonymously, the first in [End Page 281] no fewer than five editions, 5 and printed copies of all but The Choice of Hercules are to be found in the Otago source, where they are, in each case, provided with cast lists, and, for Florimel and Phoebe, a trio of dedicatory poems, all in the hand of John Hoadly himself. 6 An autograph copy of The Choice of Hercules (with cast list) is there too, its text written out no doubt because the printed version had not been issued separately, but was contained within A Miscellany of Lyric Poems, The Greatest Part Written for, and Performed in the Academy of Music, Held in the Apollo (London, 1740) where, incidentally, it is entitled `The Judgment of Hercules'. The Academy of Music at the Apollo was a semi-private music club founded by Greene seven or eight years earlier, and at which, as is evident from Hoadly's cast lists, all five works listed here had been performed.

Of the two dedicatory poems which Hoadly inserted into the Otago copy of the Winchester editon of Love's Revenge, one (undated) is inscribed to Diana, Duchess of Bedford; the other, to James Harris, is dated 1743, and must have been designed to accompany a score of the work apparently sent to him by the librettist in the autumn of that year. 7 Also dating from 1743, and evidently intended for Harris himself to set, is an autograph copy of the libretto of the oratorio, The Song of Moses. There is a second autograph copy from the library of the Earl of Malmesbury now housed in the Hampshire County Record Office in Winchester, Hants., and this is the one actually sent by Hoadly to the prospective composer. In the event, Harris never got round to it, and Hoadly, many years later (in 1775), passed a copy to Garrick with the request that he send it on to Thomas Linley in Bath for consideration. It was not the elder Thomas Linley, however, but rather his gifted son (also Thomas), who finally set it to music—and by the time of its first performance (on 12 March 1777), Hoadly himself was dead. 8 As for Love's Artifice, [End Page 282] a masque based on an episode from Cervantes' Don Quixote (and also in Otago), that too was still unset in 1775. 9 Nevertheless, as will shortly appear, there is some evidence to suggest that it had once been offered to, and probably turned down by, a former Greene pupil, the blind organist John Stanley (1712-86).

And so things stood until the spring of 2004 when four volumes of John Hoadly MSS, largely autograph, suddenly appeared on the market, and were shortly afterwards acquired by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where they are now catalogued as MSS Eng. d. 3623-26. 10 It is the last of these (MS Eng. d. 3626) which is of particular interest in the present context. Not only does this volume contain the same seven works as appear in the Otago source (and in the same order too), but it (together with MS Eng. d. 3623) also includes autograph copies of most of those poems which, in my 1997 addendum to Maslen, I surmised might once have been included there. In the case of the first five works however—i.e., those texts set to music by Greene—it is only the title pages, cast lists and dedicatory verses which are in Hoadly's own hand; the lists of dramatis personae and the libretti themselves are the work of an amanuensis as yet unidentified, but quite possibly Elizabeth Hoadly, the poet's wife. The letter forms used are strikingly similar to those of her husband, and the texts are marked up in such a way (with single, double, and triple underlining) as to suggest they may perhaps have been intended as printer's copy. It may also be worth noting that the `The Choice of Hercules' is here undated but entitled `The Judgment of Hercules' (as it is in the 1740 print referred to above). With Love's Artifice (starting on fol. 76r), Hoadly himself takes over, and everything thereafter is in his hand. But whereas the Otago copy (also autograph) leaves blank the space after `Set to Musick by', that space is here filled in by `Mr: Stanley'. According to a note later pencilled-in on fol. 84v, there was once yet another copy signed `J. Hoadly' and dated 1744—and to that, the following memorandum had apparently been added: `This Mask was afterwards somewhat alter'd, and given to Mr. Stanley to set to Musick. J. H.'. 11 Whether John Stanley actually considered the text and rejected it is anyone's guess; what is certain, however, is that no such piece has yet come to light (or is known to have been composed [End Page 283] by him). 12 The 1744 date too must remain slightly suspect given that Love's Revenge is here said (wrongly) to have been written in 1736 and set to music by Greene in 1737—and Jephtha to have been composed in 1739.

Between Love's Artifice and The Song of Moses (in a third autograph copy which Hoadly here declares to have been `compos'd for James Harris Esqre. but never set'), there stands an unfinished `Ode on the Origin of Musick' which, if we may believe what its author says of it (on fol. 86r), was designed as a text for Greene's 1730 Cambridge Mus.D. exercise, but had been abandoned `on Mr. Pope's applying to Him [i.e., Greene], that his Ode on St. Cecilia's Day might be perform'd on that Occasion'. Its first stanza will serve to illustrate the enviable facility and already quite polished style of the young nineteen-year-old poet:

The mimetic possibilities of the last eight lines in particular are obvious, but the remaining five stanzas, much more narrowly focused on the tale of Pan and Syrinx, provide fewer opportunities for musical expression. From a note in John Hawkins' General History of the Science and Practice of Music (1776), 13 and from the fact that the text was specially altered and adapted by the poet for the occasion, it has always been assumed that it was Greene who took the initiative in approaching Pope. It now looks, however, as if things might actually have been the other way round. 14

From various bibliographical notes pencilled in by some early nineteenth-century owner of these four quarto volumes, quite possibly the poet's nephew, [End Page 284] the Rev. Robert Hoadly-Ashe (1751-1826), it is clear that there were once no fewer than nine octavo volumes as well, some obviously containing yet more copies of some at least of those various extended Hoadly works already discussed. It may be that the Otago source was one of these, but if so, it certainly wasn't the one referred to in the annotations mentioned earlier, since the Otago copy of Love's Artifice is neither signed nor dated, and does not contain any of those later alterations noted in the marginalia to MS Eng. d. 3626. Someone else—just conceivably the poet's widow in extreme old age— also flagged most (though not all) of those several poems by Hoadly included in Robert Dodsley's six-volume Collection of Poems . . . by Several Hands (1748-58). 15 By 1836, these same four volumes—presumably bound as they are now, in gilt-ruled sprinkled calf and numbered vols. I-IV on the spine bands—had passed into the hands of the well-known London bookseller Thomas Thorpe, who sold them on to Sir Thomas Phillipps as part of the largest single bulk-buying operation of that extraordinary bibliophile's manic career. On that one occasion, Phillipps bought no fewer than 1647 manuscripts at a knock-down price of £6,000. 16 Thus the Hoadly volumes became MS 9406 in the Phillipps collection. They resurfaced (as lot 303) in a Sotheby's (Phillipps) sale of 19-22 June 1893, and again in 1903 when they were bought by Dobell for two guineas. Shortly afterwards, it would appear, they were acquired by one Samuel John Hoadly, who believed himself (wrongly as it happens) to have been a member of the Winchester branch of the family. 17

As a poet, John Hoadly is now remembered (if at all) solely for his verses written to be placed, one each, under the eight plates of Hogarth's Rake's Progress (1735); these were subsequently included in volume 5 of the Dodsley collection (1758), and there is a MS fair copy of them in volume I here (MS Eng. d. 3623, pp. 184-190). So too (on pp. 222-229) is Hoadly's 1737 (and author-approved) translation of Edward Holdsworth's `Muscipula, sive Kambromyomaxia' (`The Mouse-Trap'). But neither of these is autograph. The first two-thirds of volume I (pp. 1-257) were copied by the same person as copied the first five libretti (i.e., those set by Greene) in volume IV (see discussion of MS Eng. d. 3626 above). Hoadly himself takes over on p. 258 and thereafter continues uninterruptedly to p. 388 (with eight blank pages at the end). He also seems, at some later date—most probably in the mid1760s—to have gone back and made various alterations and additions to [End Page 285] those neat fair copies contained in the earlier part of the volume. Included in the autograph section, and hitherto unknown, is a rather charming `Sonnet in Spenser's Stanza' addressed `To Dr Greene, on his setting to Musick the Sonnets of Spencer, [sic] and dedicating them to her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle':

     The pious Bird along ye boundless Skies
His aged Parent on his Back doth bear,
     With wreathed Neck he feeds him as he flies,
And safe conducts Him to a Clime more fair.
     Noting herein his Love & filial Care.
So Thou, to Spenser's Genius near allied,
     Near as sweet Numbers to harmonious Air,
Feedest his Fame, & bearest Him beside
     To Her, so worthy to be Orpheus' Bride;
(He, tunefull Master, charm'd ye dreary Coast,
     Nor Pluto's self his sweet Request denies;)
To Her ye Graces' and ye Muses' Boast.
     Well may'st Thou on such Basis build thy Name,
Sure as her Judgment & thy Poet's Fame.

Greene's setting of twenty-five of Spenser's Amoretti, composed in the summer of 1738 and published in the spring of the following year, is undoubtedly his finest achievement in the field of English solo song. Whether or not Hoadly was involved we do not know, but by a careful selection of poems, the autobiographical narrative of the original (1595) sonnet sequence is neatly preserved, and to that extent the collection may be viewed as a curious precursor of the later romantic song cycle. There is, however, no evidence to suggest that Greene ever envisaged the consecutive performance of all twenty-five songs. 18

In volume I (but not in volume IV) the material is chronologically arranged, and several pieces (in both volumes) are actually dated. The contents of volume I, prefaced by a few lines of Latin ascribed to Strada, 19 are also divided into two parts, the first (pp. 1-22) being described on its title-page as `Poems written while at School', the second (pp. 23-372) as `Poems on several Occasions'. The latter covers the period from 1729 to February 1746. From an autograph index at the end (pp. 375-388), as also from various alterations made to the fair copies in the earlier part of the volume, it might possibly be inferred that the poet once had publication in mind. I rather doubt it, however, since (as appears from his correspondence with Garrick and Richard Warner too) Hoadly the writer was clearly concerned to maintain his anonymity. Just as well, perhaps, as the juvenilia gets off to a [End Page 286] rather bad start with a short poem on farting written `Extempore from the French, while at the House of Office' and introduced by the following pair of lines from Henry Carey's Namby-Pamby [1725]. 20

Sh—g writes, & writing Sh—ts
All by little tiny bits.

Why anyone should wish to preserve such coarse schoolboy smut I cannot imagine, but there is worse to come in volume IV, a volume whose title page proclaims it to be a collection of `Poems for Musick'. Here (on fols. 94v-95v) we encounter a fairly long lavatorial `Ode to Stt. Cloacine by an Epicurean Philosopher: Set to Musick by ye most zealous of her Adorers Maurice Greene Mus: Dr.'. The text, in Hoadly's hand, is dated 1745 at the end, and is laid out in cantata form, with three airs, each prefaced by a slab of what must obviously be recitative. Can it really be that Greene, as Organist and Composer of His Majesty's Chapel Royal, Master of the King's Musick, Organist of St Paul's Cathedral, and honorary Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, actually set (and performed) such stuff, even in the privacy of some convivial (and no doubt very tipsy) all-male gathering? If so, it suggests a far greater degree of intimacy between composer and poet than one had previously assumed. In somewhat similar vein, but much less vulgar, is a five-verse `Ballad' headed `The humble Petition of an ancient Gentlewoman to ye worshipfull the Trustees for the College of Old Maids, to be founded by A. W. Spinster. 1746' (volume IV, fol. 131r). This too is said to have been set to music by Greene, but in neither case does the music survive.

Also lost is Greene's setting of six cantatas entitled `The Trophy'. Written in 1746 in honour of the Duke of Cumberland on his triumphant return from Culloden, the words were printed by Dodsley in volume 3 of his Collection of Poems (1748), and the autograph is here in volume IV (MS Eng. d. 3626, fols. 102v-109r). 21 The words of two other cantatas said to have been set by Greene and previously unknown are also included: one a three-fold set of recitative and aria pairs beginning `Cynthia display'd her silver Ray' and dated 1729, the other, seemingly composed in November 1747 `on the Birth Day of her Grace Mary Duchess of Leeds, lately brought to Bed of a Marquiss [sic] of Carmarthen' (fols. 99v-100v and 101v-102v respectively.) Likewise new are two songs, `Love in thy Youth; Fair Maid, be wise' and `Too late for Redress, & too soon for my Ease' (on fols. 124v-125r), plus two ballads in addition to the afore-mentioned `humble Petition': `The Nymphs around attending' (1737) and `The Syllabub. To Laetilla' (1740), beginning `Who can Laetilla's Skill withstand' (on fols. 127r-128r). At the very end of the [End Page 287] volume (fols. 136r-137r) are two metricalised psalms, the first a version of Psalm 23 (`The Lord is my Shepherd, then what shall I need?') apparently set by Greene in 1744, the second (1745) a version of Psalm 137 beginning `Tost by the sedge Side Of Babel's hostile Tide'. And finally, a curious local yokel type of piece evidently written at Farnham (his father's country seat) in 1743; described (on fol. 93v) as an `Ode of Horace parodied', it is cast as a dialogue between `Bunney' and `Lunney', who are elsewhere identified as John Burnel, the `BP.'s fat Porter at Farnham Castle' and `his adored Dairy Woman Mrs. Lunn'. 22

For none of these, however, does the music survive. Greene's first volume of songs, entitled The Chaplet, was published anonymously in March 1738. That the words of one of the most popular items in that collection, `Fair Sally lov'd a bonny seaman', were by John Hoadly has long been known. 23 What we haven't known before is that Hoadly was responsible for the words of the other eleven songs as well. They are all simple strophic pieces, and all but two were also published separately, in single half-sheet editions and/or various popular songbooks, and sometimes (as with `Fair Sally') in advance of The Chaplet itself. One of those which did not succeed is `Hob's come home again', the last song in the book. In 47 verses of mummerset, it chronicles the adventures in London of Hob and his `Zister Zuzan', and is obviously a first cousin once removed to the Bunney and Lunney piece just mentioned. But a couple of songs clearly did make it into the charts. Front runner, with no fewer than thirteen editions in addition to its appearance in The Chaplet, is the `Scots Sang' beginning `Sweet Annie fra the sea beach came', its pseudo-vernacular text so stuffed with Scots words as to require a glossary printed after the last verse. 24 Astonishingly perhaps, the piece had, by the end of the century, become `so much naturalized as to pass for Scotish'—and as such it was included (anonymously) in the first book of George Thomson's Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs (Edinburgh, 1793) where it is decked out with `Introductory & Concluding Symphonies & Accompanyments for the Violin & Piano Forte' by Ignace Pleyel. Not far behind (with eleven separate printings of the music) is another convivial piece entitled `Life is chequer'd'. Taken up by Smollett in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle and there referred to as `The Boatswain's Whistle', the song was a great favourite with [End Page 288] Commodore Trunnion and Tom Pipes, his ex-boatswain's mate, whenever they made merry together in taverns. 25

Also quite popular among the twelve songs in The Chaplet was one which begins `In vain the force of female arms' and is simply headed `Chloe' in both manuscript and print. Its words were first published anonymously (with Greene's music) in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1738. Somewhat later, and also addressed to Chloe, are two other Greene/Hoadly settings: `Chloe resolv'd' (1744), and `The Poet's Picture of his Love' (1745). The latter was shortly afterwards published (but with no mention of Hoadly as poet) in the second of Greene's two books of A Cantata and [Four] English Songs (1746), while the words of the former were subsequently included in the third volume of Dodsley's collection (where they are dated 1743). But again, what hasn't hitherto been evident is that the Chloe of the title was no mere Arcadian shepherdess, but the poet's wife, Elizabeth (née Ashe of Salisbury). 26 The couple were married on 10 February 1736, so the verses `On a Bay-Leaf pluck'd from Virgil's Tomb, near Naples' (and dated 1736 in Dodsley's volume 3) must almost certainly have been composed on honeymoon.27 27 Greene's next publication was a volume of Catches and Canons for Three and Four Voices. To which is added a Collection of Songs for Two and Three Voices With a Through Bass for the Harpsicord issued in December 1747. None of the catches or canons is of any interest in the present context, but three of the songs have words now known to be by Hoadly, and all were written for the annual Stepney Feast, the first (`Britain and Belgia joyn') in 1734, the second (`From Zembla's ever-icy plain') in 1735, and the third (`Great ruler of the restless waves') in 1736. 28 A fourth song for the Stepney Feast of 1733 (`Hail British Isle, of mighty fate') is also included in Greene's 1747 Collection, but whether Hoadly was responsible for this too does not appear. 29 [End Page 289]

Like many other eighteenth-century clergymen, country parsons in particular, John Hoadly turned out reams of such neatly crafted but essentially anodyne verse, and, with a good classical education behind him, also a great many translations and parodies of such poets as Anacreon, Horace, Ovid and Virgil. 30 And like many other eighteenth-century poets too, most notably perhaps Pope, he was also much given to the writing of epistolary verses. There are several of these in volume I, and one of them, not dated, but clearly penned sometime in the early 1730s, is addressed to Dr. Greene. It begins with greetings sent to the composer's wife and three children (all named), and then goes on, in another 43 four-line stanzas, to describe, quite amusingly, an incident in which, on a recent coach journey across Salisbury Plain, Hoadly and a couple of cronies had been involved. Having stopped off to whet their whistles at Lord Arundel's place (just next to the ruins of Wardour Castle), they returned to their coach to find their driver blind drunk on his lordship's beer. On mounting the coach box, he got his feet caught up in the reins, fell off, and was run over by the carriage. The party thought him dead,

But when We'd dragged him on his Side
Out of the Road, our nose descry'd
He'd only piss-spew-shit-ify'd
His Breeches.

The hero of the occasion, the man who got the coachman patched up and back on board and then drove them on to Salisbury, was their mutual friend Dr John Freke (1688-1756), to whom the coach evidently belonged. Freke was a well-known surgeon (like Hoadly's elder brother, Benjamin). He was also very keen on music, and was (with Greene until 1731) a member of the Academy of Vocal (later Ancient) Music. Daringly supportive of his friend, he is said to have maintained (in coffee-house conversation) that Greene `was as eminent in composition as Handel'. And this unguarded remark, passed on to Hogarth not long after, is also said to have provoked the following vigorous response: `That fellow Freke . . . is always shooting his bolt absurdly [End Page 290] one way or another! Handel is a giant in music; Greene only a light Florimel kind of a composer'. 31

Hogarth was quite right of course. But Greene as a composer is by no means to be despised. And neither, for that matter, is Hoadly as poet (though no one, it seems, has yet given him any serious scholarly attention). What is rather curious about the contents of these two volumes is that, with the exception of the pastoral opera, Phoebe, written in 1747, and a dedicatory poem sent with a copy of that work to the Marchioness Grey, wife of his old friend, Philip Yorke (later 2nd Earl of Hardwicke), in 1749, as also one other piece not yet mentioned, they contain nothing later than February 1746. 32 What, one wonders, did he produce during the remaining thirty years of his life? We have numerous letters to Garrick (and others) of course, but almost nothing in the way of verse, save, that is, for three items in Dodsley's fifth volume: a six-line poem in French, English and Latin entitled `Verses to be fixed on the Gate of the Louvre at Paris. 1751', together with an epilogue to Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I as acted by `Young Gentlemen at Mr. Newcome's School at Hackney' in 1748 and a `Prologue to Comus. Performed for the Benefit of the General Hospital at Bath, 1756; And spoken by Miss Morrison in the Character of a Lady of Fashion'. 33 There are also two poems written in 1755 which survive among the Grenville papers in the British Library (Add. MS 57836, fols. 77r-78r), but neither is of any real interest. To these may be added a Prologue to the Siege of Damascus (by John Hughes) dating from 1764, and one last Chloe-centred piece (`When Chloe tried her virgin fires') included in a letter of 8 February 1776 from Hoadly to Mrs Joseph Warton. 34 Presumably there was a good deal more in that long lost set of nine octavo volumes to which reference has earlier been made.

Though the emphasis here has been very much on those poems written for (or at any rate set by) Greene, Hoadly produced words for a couple of other composers as well. One was Joseph Kelway (c. 1702-82), who, as `Mr. [End Page 291] Kellaway', apparently set a five-movement cantata entitled `Venus and Adonis'. 35 Another was Greene's close friend Michael Christian Festing (1705-52), whose setting of `The Bird of Passage' was subsequently included in his A Collection of English Cantatas and Songs. Sung by Mr. Beard at Ranelagh House [1750]. 36 There was also John Ernest Galliard (c. 16871749), whom Hoadly himself elsewhere describes as a `most genteel and knowing composer'. 37 The words of their enormously popular song, `The Early Horn', were, he says, written `for Rich, in the Cambridge stage-coach, [in] 1731', and, in autograph, they are included here (vol. IV, fols. 133r-134v) in their original dramatic context. This Hoadly explains as follows:

Mr. Rich having two fine Scenes by Him, painted by Lambert, one of the Queen's Hermitage and the other of Merlin's Cave, in Richmond-Gardens, desired me to put together a few Words for Musick to introduce them: which were performd soon after in the Royal Chace, set to Musick by Mr. Galliard. 1731.

It is to the first of these two scenes that `The Early Horn' properly belongs. It was to be another five years, however, before The Royal Chance; or, Merlin's Cave, a pantomime generally accredited to Edward Phillips, took the stage.

Unlike his elder brother Benjamin (1706-57), whose Suspicious Husband of 1747 quickly established itself as one of the favourite comedies of the century, John Hoadly cut no ice as a playwright. He was, however, something of an expert on the theatre, and Garrick's most recent biographers refer to him glowingly as `perhaps the best informed nonprofessional scholar of English drama, past and present'. 38 He is known to have written the fifth act of James Miller's tragedy, Mahomet the Imposter (1744), and to have revised and completed George Lillo's Arden of Feversham (1759), but, until recently, it appeared that the only survivors among his own original works were those several libretti intended for musical setting and discussed in the earlier part of this article. Among the `Poems on several Occasions' of volume I (MS Eng. d. 3623) are a small handful of prologues and epilogues for plays performed by the boys at his old school in Hackney; 39 also the prologue and [End Page 292] epilogue to Mahomet together with a revised version of the prologue designed to be spoken at a Drury Lane benefit for Miller's widow on 24 November 1744. 40 To these may now be added the two five-act historical tragedies and two comedies included in those recently acquired Bodleian volumes not yet mentioned: MSS Eng. d. 3624 and 3625. In the latter is an autograph copy of The Contrast, written jointly by John and Benjamin Hoadly, and first acted at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln's Inn Fields on 30 April 1731. It was, however, withdrawn after three performances, seemingly at the insistence of their father, the bishop, who was concerned that his sons' authorship of the play, anonymously produced, should not be discovered. But all that is another story which needs must be deferred to some other occasion. 41

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1553-3891
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0081-7600
Launched on MUSE
2007-05-03
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