Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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RALPH, James, author, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about 1695; died in Chiswick, England, 25 January, 1762. He was clerk to a conveyancer in Philadelphia, and about 1718 became the intimate associate of Benjamin Franklin, who describes him as his " inseparable companion, genteel in his manners, ingenious, extremely eloquent, and I never knew a prettier talker." He accompanied Franklin to London in 1724, deserting his wife and child for his friend, and, being without money, lived at Franklin's expense. He afterward attempted to become an actor, and subsequently to edit and write for newspapers, but with little success. He then settled as a school-master in Berkshire, secured the notice of Lord Melcombe, and obtained much notoriety as an adherent of the Prince of Wales's faction, employing his talents as pamphleteer, poet, and political journalist in the interest of that party. Toward the close of Sir Robert Walpole's administration he was bought off from the opposition, and at the accession of George III. received a pension, but lived to enjoy it hardly more than six months. Franklin says he " did his best to dissuade Ralph from attempting to become a poet, but he was not cured of scribbling verses till Pope attacked him in the lines in the "Dunciad," beginning: "Silence, ye wolves, while Ralph to Cynthia howls, And makes night hideous ; answer him, ye owls.'"He published "The Muses' Address to the King," an ode (London, 1728) ; " The Tempest " (1728) ; "The Touchstone," a volume of essays (1728); "Clarinda," a poem (1729); " Zeuma," a poem (1729) ; " A Taste of the Town, a Guide to all Pub-lick Diversions Answered" (1730) ; "The Fashionable Lady," a comedy (1730); " The Fall of the Earl of Essex" (1731) ; "A Critical View of the Publick Buildings of London " (1734) ; " The Groans of Germany," a political pamphlet, of which 15,000 copies were sold at once (1734) ; "The Use and Abuse of Parliament" (2 vols., 1744); the " History of England during the Reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and George I.," which Charles James Fox eulogized, and is a work of great merit as regards information (1744);" The Cause of Authors by Profession " (1758): "The History of Prince Titi" (Frederick, Prince of Wales), in manuscript, never published, by some ascribed to him; and many dramatic works, lampoons, and essays.
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