canning life public english father
FRERE, JOHN HooluiAm (1769-1841), an English diplomatist and author, was born in London, May 21, 1769. His father, John Frere, a gentleman of a good Suffolk family, had been educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and would have been senior wrangler in 1763 but for the powerful competition of Paley ; his mother, daughter of Mr John Hookham, a rich London merchant, was a lady of no small ability and culture, accustomed to amuse her leisure with the pleasures of versification ; and his father's sister Ellinor was married to Sir John Fenn, the learned editor of the Paston Letters, and contributed with her own pen to the formation of a library of fiction for children. Young Frere was sent to Eton in 1785, and there began that intimacy with Canning which so greatly affected his after life. From Eton he went to his father's college at Cambridge, and graduated D.A. in 1792 and M.A. in 1795. He entered public service in the foreign office under Lord Grenville, and sat from 1796 to 1802 as member of parliament for the close borough of Looe in Cornwall. From his boyhood lie had been a warm admirer of Pitt, and along with Canning he entered heart and soul into the defence of his Government, and contributed freely to the pages of the Anti-Jacobin. On Canning's removal to the board of trade in 1799 he succeeded him as under secretary of state ; in October 1800 he was appointed envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Lisbon ; and on September 1802 he was transferred to Spain, where he remained for two years. He was recalled on account of a personal disagreement he had with the " Prince of Peace," but his conduct was approved by the ministry, and in 1808 he was again sent out as plenipotentiary to Ferdinand VII. The condition of Spain rendered his position a very responsible and difficult one, but had it not been for one unfortunate step he would have left the country with greatly increased reputation. When Napoleon began to advance on Madrid it became a matter of supreme importance to decide whether Sir John Moore, who was then in the north of Spain, should endeavour to anticipate the occupation of the capital or merely make good his retreat, and if he did retreat whether he should do so by Portugal or by Galicia. Frere was strongly of opinion that the bolder was the better course, and he urged his views on Sir John Moore with an urgent and fearless persistency that on one occasion at least overstepped the limits of his commission. After the disastrous retreat to Corunna, the public accused Frere of having by his advice endangered the British army, and though no direct censure was passed upon his conduct by the Government, he was called home, and the Marquis of Wellesley was appointed in his place. Thus ended Frere's public life, He afterwards refused to undertake an embassy to St Petersburg, and twice declined the honour of a peerage. In 1816 he married Elizabeth Jemima, dowager countess of Erroll, and in 1820, on account of her failing health, he went with her to the Mediterranean. There he finally settled in Malta, and though lie afterwards visited England more than once, the rest of his life was for the most part spent in the island of his choice. In quiet retirement lie devoted himself to various literary labours, studied his favourite Greek authors, and taught himself Hebrew and Maltese. His hospitality was well known to many an English guest, and his charities and courtesies endeared him to his Maltese neighbours ; and when lie died in 1841, his loss was evidently regarded by rich and poor as a common calamity.
Frere's literary ability was early displayed. lie was a contril∎utor at Eton to the school magazine known as the Microcosm, and gained the members' prize at Cambridge in 1792 by an essay on the strange question, " Whether it were possible to hope for improvement in morals and the cultivation of virtue in the rising republic of Botany Bay'?" During the first period of his public life he was one of the chief writers in the Anti-Jacobin, contributing, among other pieces, "The Loves of the Triangles," a clever parody of Darwin's "Loves of the Plants," and sharing with Canning the honour of " The Needy Knife-Grinder" and "The Borers." In 1817 he published a mock-heroic poem entitled, Prospectus and ,Spceimcn of amintended Xational Work by William and Robert Whistleeraft, of Stow-Market, in Slrffolk, harness and Collar makers, intended to comp-Ise the most interesting particulars relating to King Arthur and Iris Round Table. It attracted considerable attention at the time, and though it was afterwards comparatively forgotten, it served to bring again into fashion the octave stanza of the Italians, and formed, as far at least as its versification was concerned, the acknowledged model of Byron's Ben i°. Much greater importance attached to the translations of Aristophanes, by which indeed Frere occupies an almost unrivalled position in English literature. The principles according to which he conducted his task were elucidated in an article on Mitchell's Aristophanes, which he contributed to The Quarterly Review, vol. xxiii. The translations of The Aeharnians, Tire Knights, The Birds, and The Fogs were privately printed, and were first brought into general notice by Sir G. Cornewall Lewis in the Classical Mleseont for 1847. They were followed some time after by Theognis Restitutus, or the personal history of the poet Thcognis, reduced from an analysis of his caisting fragments. Frere's complete works were published in 1871, with a memoir by his nephews, W. E. and Sir Bartle Frere, and reached a second edition in 1874. Compare also an article in the Xorth American Review, vol. evil., 1868.