Read THE REVD. MR. JAMES MILLER of The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) Vol. V, free online book, by Theophilus Cibber, on

This gentleman was born in the year 1703.  He was the son of a clergyman, who possessed two considerable livings in Dorsetshire.  He received his education at Wadham-College in Oxford, and while he was resident in that university he composed part of his famous Comedy called the Humours of Oxford, acted in the year 1729, by the particular recommendation of Mrs. Oldfield.

This piece, as it was a lively representation of the follies and vices of the students of that place, procured the author many enemies.

Mr. Miller was designed by his relations to be bred to business, which he declined, not being able to endure the servile drudgery it demanded.  He no sooner quitted the university than he entered into holy orders, and was immediately preferred to be lecturer in Trinity-College in Conduit-Street, and preacher of Roehampton-Chapel.  These livings were too inconsiderable to afford a genteel subsistence, and therefore it may be supposed he had recourse to dramatic writing to encrease his finances.  This kind of composition, however, being reckoned by some very foreign to his profession, if not inconsistent with it, was thought to have retarded his preferment in the church.  Mr. Miller was likewise attached to the High-Church interest, a circumstance in the times in which he lived, not very favourable to preferment.  He was so honest however in these principles, that upon a large offer being made him by the agents for the ministry in the time of a general opposition, he had virtue sufficient to withstand the temptation, though his circumstances at that time were far from being easy.  Mr. Miller often confessed to some of his friends, that this was the fiery trial of his constancy.  He had received by his wife a very genteel fortune, and a tenderness for her had almost overcome his resolutions; but he recovered again to his former firmness, when upon hinting to his wife, the terms upon which preferment might be procured, she rejected them with indignation; and he became ashamed of his own wavering.  This was an instance of honour, few of which are to be met with in the Lives of the Poets, who have been too generally of a time-serving temper, and too pliant to all the follies and vices of their age.  But though Mr. Miller would not purchase preferment upon the terms of writing for the ministry, he was content to stipulate, never to write against them, which proposal they rejected in their turn.

About a year before Mr. Miller’s death, which happened in 1743, he was presented by Mr. Cary of Dorsetshire, to the profitable living of Upsun, his father had before possess’d, but which this worthy man lived not long to enjoy; nor had he ever an opportunity of making that provision for his family he so much sollicited; and which he even disdained to do at the expence of his honour.

Mr. Miller’s dramatic works are,

I. Humours of Oxford, which we have already mentioned.

II.  The Mother-in-Law, or the Doctor the Disease; a Comedy, 1733.

III.  The Man of Taste, a Comedy; acted in the year 1736, which had a run of 30 nights.

IV.  Universal Passion, a Comedy, 1736.

V. Art and Nature, a Comedy, 1737.

VI.  The Coffee-House, a Farce, 1737.

VII.  An Hospital for Fools, a Farce, 1739.

VIII.  The Picture, or Cuckold in Conceit.

IX.  Mahomet the Impostor, a Tragedy; during the run of this play the author died.

X. Joseph and his Brethren; a sacred Drama.

Mr. Miller was author of many occasional pieces in poetry, of which his Harlequin Horace is the most considerable.  This Satire is dedicated to Mr. Rich, the present manager of Covent-Garden Theatre, in which with an ironical severity he lashes that gentleman, in consequence of some offence Mr. Rich had given him.

Mr. Miller likewise published a volume of Sermons, all written with a distinguished air of piety, and a becoming zeal for the interest of true religion; and was principally concerned in the translation of Moliere’s comedies, published by Watts.

Our author left behind him a son, whose profession is that of a sea surgeon.  Proposals for publishing his Poems have been inserted in the Gentleman’s Magazine, with a specimen, which does him honour.  The profits of this subscription, are to be appropriated to his mother, whom he chiefly supported, an amiable instance of filial piety.