Samuel Madden [D.D.] (1686-1765)

Life
[known as ‘Premium Madden’]; b. 23rd Dec., Dublin; nephew of William Molyneux, his mother being a Molyneux of Castle Dillon; ed. TCD, ord. 1721; living at Drumraully, nr. Newtownbutler; DD, 1723; visited London, 1729; published Themistocles, the Lover of His Country (Lincoln Fields, Feb. 1729), a tragedy; established premiums for learning at Trinity College, Dublin and Royal Dublin Society [RDS], which he founded with Thomas Prior, 1731; offered 50 for the author of an Irish invention improving any useful art or manufacture; paid Samuel Johnson 10 in London to improve a poem; issued Memoirs Of the Twentieth Century [sic] (1733), suppressed by the author at the instance of Sir Robert Walpole and now very rare; Reflections and Resolutions Proper for the Gentlemen of Ireland (1738), containing 32 anti-absenteeist resolutions; d. Fermanagh; Mary Delany has left an account of him in her Letters, while his bounty was still remembered in an oration of Dr. Thomas Sheridan’s oration (6 Dec. 1757); Dr. Johnson wrote, ‘his was a name which Ireland ought to honour’; there is a portrait by R. Hunter and R. Purcell in the National Gallery of Ireland and another by Stephen Slaughter; also, an unattributed head of Madden sculpted in marble in the RDS Members’ Room (Ballsbridge, Dublin). CAB ODNB PI DIB DIW [FDA]

[ top ]

Works
Themistocles; The Lover of His Country (Dublin: S. Power 1729), [x], 63, [ii]pp., Reflections and Resolutions Proper for the Gentlemen of Ireland (Dublin 1738; rep. 1816); Memoirs Of the Twentieth Century (1733). See also Letters of Lord Chesterfield to Faulkner, Dr Madden, &c (1770), as Supplement [now Vols. III & IV of Stanhope’s edition of Chesterfield’s Works].

[ top ]

Criticism
T. de Vere White, Anglo-Irish (1972), p.62-3; Mairead Dunlevy, ‘Samuel Madden and the Scholarship for Encouraging Useful Manufactures’, in Agnes Birnelle, ed., Decantations: A Tribute for Maurice Craig (Dublin: Lilliput 1993), pp.21-28. See also Caroline Robbins, Eighteenth-century Commonwealthman (1961).

There is a biographical notice in James Wills, The Irish Nation, Its History & Its Biography, 4 vols. (London 1871), p.381-82 [online; accessed 15.11.2009].

[ top ]

Commentary
Douglas Hyde, Literary History of Ireland (1901 edn.), contradicts Madden’s statement about the decline of Irish: ‘The first authorities I know of who speak of Irish as dying out are Dr. Samuel Madden, who, writing in 1738, states that not one in twenty was ignorant of English, and [Walter] Harris, who, in his description of the county Down six years later, says that Irish prevailed only amongst the poorer Catholics. Both these statements, however, are preposterously exaggerated. ... Madden’s statement that in 1738 nineteen-twentieths of the population knew English is an incredible one and so utterly disproved by all the other evidence, that it is astonishing that so sound and careful a historian as Mr. [W. E. H.] Lecky should have accepted it as substantially true.’ (p.623ff.)

Terence de Vere White, The Anglo-Irish (London: Gollancz 1972), writes of Madden: ‘A hen-pecked man, he objected to concerts and parties for women, and would only allow them to go if they brought needle-work along. He suggested that priests should be compelled by law to have a spinning wheel in their homes (pp.62-63; see also under Quotations.)

Quotations
Reflections and Resolutions Proper for the Gentlemen of Ireland
(Dublin MDCCXXXVIII [1738]; rep. 1816).The text is without preface or table of contents, but has an extended title addressing its audience ‘As landlords, master of families, Protestants [...] descended from British ancestors, country gentlemen and farmers, JPs, merchants, MPs’; also an Epigraph: Quo est detestabilior istorum immanitas, qui lacerarunt moni scelere patriam, et in ea funditus delenda occupati et sunt, et fuerunt (Cicero., de Offic. L. II.) TEXT, ‘Grazing [...] has spread so generally through the nation, that tho’ it eats up our people like the plague, and lays our country waste we seem every day to do all in our power to increase the epidemical evil of overrunning vast tracts of land with such prodigious herds of cattle, that our stock master in some counties will soon be able to match the famous Mac Sorley-boy in Queen Elizabeth’s time, who is said to have kept 50,000 head of cattle to his own share.’; ‘As it is to England alone we ower that we are not absolute slaves to tyranny and popery, so we must ever acknowledge with grateful hearts that it has cost our ancestors an immense expense of blood and treasure to settle us in so safe and happy a situation as we now enjoy’. Madden’s proposals are as follows [inclusive], 1) as landlords, remove defects, 2) on our own estates, encourage peasants, 3) plant and improve, 4) encourage manufacture, 5) discourage all customs that destroy frugality, 6) plant our estates as thick as possible and lever loose an industrious farmer, 7) buy Irish, 8) temperance, 9) banish luxurious living common to the gentlemen of Ireland, 10) educate our children, 11) servants for use not for show, 12) do all in our power to [overcome] delusion and ignorance of which our countrymen are kept by Popish priests as the greatest cause of their misery, 13) welfare of Britain as our common parent, 14) never to hur the trade interests of GB, 15) never to forget our debt to GB, 16) agriculture and tillage, 17) flax and linen, 18) husbandry, 19) improve cattle and horses, 20) laws to improve husbandry, [...] 23) persecute with severity felons, 24) strictly execute laws against vagabonds, Idlers, and Sturdy Beggars, 25) obey excise laws, and avoid suspicion of rivalry with England in the woollen trade [...] 31) sumptuary laws.’ Madden estimates that Ireland loses by absenteeism £500,000 per annum; speaks of the ‘barbarity of the Irish [p.12] [...] without ‘the honour of having English blood in their veins’; objects, but mildly, to the Penal Laws excluding Catholics from long leases of 31 years and more. Further, ‘Building our estates, makes our residence there convenient and agreeable, will greatly influence our successors to continue on them, and preserve the seat of the Family, and not only repair, but improve it, and where this is wanting, an estate suffers as much by the absence of the landlord, as a ship does by the want of a captain, when the crew is left to themselves. This is a great and necessary circumstance to the well-being of Ireland, especially where often in great estates of several thousand acres, you will meet with two houses of stone and lime, fit (I will not say for a gentleman even) for a farmer to live in’ (p.10; cited in Ann Cruikshank and the Knight of Glin, Irish Portraits 1600-1860 [Exhib. Catalogue] 1969, p.13.) Further, ‘[A]s a native of Ireland, and have the whole of my fortune settled there, I think myself, though very easy in my own condition, as much obliged by all the ties of moralty and self-interest to labour to relieve the distress of my fellow-countrymen’; ‘There is no distinction which we are, or indeed ought to be fonder of than that of Englishmen’; ‘If we grow rich and easy, it must not be at the expense of our neighbours but on our own Bottom. [...] And yet it cannot but seem hard to be us’d and consider’d as aliens by those who [...] persuaded numbers of our people [...] to come over hither and spend their blood in the service to extend their Empire, Commerce and Power [...] and may not the children of those Englishmen who have planted in our colonies in American be as justly reckoned Indians and savages as such families who are settled here be considered and treated as mere Irishmen and aliens?’; ‘the love of one’s country is seldom found in any remarkable degreee but in those who live long in it, agreeable to the intention of nature, which disposes all men and other creatures to a fondness for those places in which they live.’ (Quoted in Terence de Vere White, The Anglo-Irish, London: Gollancz 1972, pp.62-63; with comments.)

[ top ]

References
Henry Boylan, A Dictionary of Irish Biography [rev. edn.] (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1988), church living at Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh, nr. family estate inherited in 1703; his tragedy Themistocles (1729) successfully produced in London; ‘Premium Madden’; Reflections &c. as to their conduct for the Service of their Country (1738); Johnson, a friend, said ‘his was a name which Ireland ought to honour;’ also reputedly friend of Swift.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, notes under Thomas Prior that he co-fnd. [Royal Dublin Society [RDS]. ODNB gives the date 1732 for his Reflections [err.].

Belfast Central Library holds Memoir of the Life of the late Rev. Peter Roe (1864); and, Reflections, and resolutions proper for the gentlemen of Ireland as to their conduct for the service of their country (1864) [Chk] Belfast Linenhall Library holds Madden’s Reflection (1738).

[ top ]

Notes
Mary Delany gave a personal account of Samuel Madden; see Angélique Day, ed., Letters from Georgian Ireland, Correspondence of Mary Delany, 1731-68 (Friar’s Bush Press 1991), p.139.

Portraits: Two portraits are known to have been done by Robert Hunter, the first a 3/4-length portrait now in Trinity College, Dublin; the other (dated 1755), untraced but known from a mezzotint by Richard Purcell (obiit . 1766).

[ top ]