[Rev.] James Sterling

Life
1701-1763 [var. fl.1718-55]; b. prob. Co. Meath; ed. TCD, Schol., 1718; BA 1720; MA 1733; contrib. three poems to Concanen’s Miscellaneous Poems (1724); ridiculed by Dublin literati; went to London with Concanen; his tragedy Parricide was performed at Goodman’s Fields, 1735; emig. Maryland in 1737 and became Church of England minister; publ. Poetical Works (1734). PI ODNB FDA OCIL

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Works
Plays, The Rival Generals (Lon 1722); The Love of Hero and Leander (Lon & Dub 1728); The Parricide (1736). Poetry, The Poetical Works (Dublin 1734)

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Criticism
Bryan Coleborne, ‘Jonathan Swift and the Dunces of Dublin’ [NUI unpub. PhD]; Lawrence C. Wroth, ‘James Sterling, Poet, Priest, and Prophet of Empire’, Proceedings of the. American Antiquarian Society, vol. 41 (Worcester: Mass 1932), pp.25-76;

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Commentary
Peter Kavanagh, Irish Theatre (1946), Sterling and Concanen, friends, went to England together; the former wrote The Rival Generals, printed Dublin and London ‘as it was acted at the Theatre Royal in Dublin, and also The Parricide (Goodman’s Fields Th. Jan 1735). In the ded. to The Rival Generals, Sterling claims it was he who ‘first awaked the Irish muse to Tragedy’ (overlooking Shadwell); while Concanen’s congratulatory verses refer to his own Wexford Wells (Dublin 7 Nov. 1729) [‘On Comic Pinions humble Flights explor’d / trifled in song, nor to the Buskin soar’d.’] Note also Sterling’s preface, ‘Long had our Stage, on foreign Refuse fed’ / to a proud Mistress bow’d her servile Head; / Her leavings treasur’d up, and curs’d the Land / With broken Scraps of wit at Second Hand; / While not one Muse arose in our Defence, / with scarce one native Note our Island rung; / Her Bards untuneful, and her Harps unstrung; / By you her home-born Rage displays / Inspired to merit independent Praise.’ (Ibid.)

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: In 1714 Smedley had attacked [Swift] as an opportunist, and in 1734 James Sterling reinforced the theme of Barber’s witty couplet on the Battle of the Books (1704) - that Swift’s defence of the ancient authors had paradoxically demonstrated the superiority of the modern ones, for whom he unwittingly fought. [&c., p.453; See further under Arbuckle, Rx.]; Vol.1 selects “An Epigram”, being lines commending Swift as proving against himself the supposed superiority of the Moderns [pp.455-56]; also cited in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Section Bibliography [p.492]; p.498.

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