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fatal consequence: the delay constrained his attendance in London, where he caught the small-pox, and died in 1703, in the thirty-sixth year of his age.
He published his poems in 1699; and has been always the favourite of that class of readers, who, without vanity or criticism, seek only their own amusement.
Or Mr. JOHN POMFRET nothing is known but from a slight and confused account prefixed to his poems by a nameless friend; who relates, that he was son of the Rev. Mr. Pomfret, rector of Luton, in Bedfordshire; that he was bred at Cambridge; entered into orders, and was rector of Malden, in Bedfordshire; and might have risen in the church, but that, when he applied to Dr. Compton, bishop of London, for institu- His "Choice" exhibits a system of life adapttion to a living of considerable value, to which ed to common notions and equal to common he had been presented, he found a troublesome expectations; such a state as affords plenty and obstruction raised by a malicious interpretation tranquillity, without exclusion of intellectual of some passage in his "Choice;" from which it pleasures. Perhaps no composition in our lanwas inferred, that he considered happiness as guage has been oftener perused than Pomfret's more likely to be found in the company of a mis-Choice." tress than of a wife.
This reproach was easily obliterated; for it had happened to Pomfret as to almost all other men who plan schemes of life; he had departed from his purpose, and was then married.
The malice of his enemies had, however, a very
In his other poems there is an easy volubility, the pleasure of smooth metre is afforded to the ear, and the mind is not oppressed with ponderous, or entangled with intricate, sentiment. He pleases many; and he who pleases many must have some species of merit.
Of the EARL OF DORSET the character has been drawn so largely and so elegantly by Prior, to whom he was familiarly known, that nothing can be added by a casual hand; and, as its author is so generally read, it would be useless officiousness to transcribe it.
as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the public indignation was awakened; the crowd attempted to force the door, and, being repulsed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house.
CHARLES SACKVILLE was born January 24, For this misdemeanour they were indicted, 1637. Having been educated under a private and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds: what tutor, he travelled into Italy, and returned a was the sentence of the others is not known. little before the Restoration. He was chosen Sedley employed Killigrew and another to prointo the first parliament that was called, for East cure a remission from the King; but (mark the Grinstead, in Sussex, and soon became a favour-friendship of the dissolute!) they begged the ite of Charles the Second; but undertook no fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last public employment, being too eager of the riotous and licentious pleasures which young men of high rank, who aspired to be thought wits, at that time imagined themselves entitled to indulge.
In 1665, Lord Buckhurst attended the Duke of York as a volunteer in the Dutch war; and was in the battle of June 3, when eighteen great Dutch ships were taken, fourteen others were destroyed, and Opdam, the admiral, who engaged the Duke, was blown up beside him, with all his
One of these frolics has, by the industry of Wood, come down to posterity. Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sed-crew. ley and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock, in Bow-street, by Covent-garden, and, going into the balcony, exposed themselves to the populace in very indecent postures. At last,
He was of Queen's College there, and, by the University register, appears to have taken his bachelor's Legree in 1694, and his master's, 1698. H.-His father was of Trinity.-C.
On the day before the battle, he is said to have composed the celebrated song, “To all you ladies now at land," with equal tranquillity of mind and promptitude of wit. Seldom any splendid story is wholly true. I have heard, from the late Earl of Orrery, who was likely to have good hereditary intelligence, that Lord Buckhurst had been a week employed upon it, and only retouched or finished it on the memor
able evening. But even this, whatever it may | accession, made him lord-chamberlain of the subtract from his facility, leaves him his courage. He was soon after made a gentleman of the bed-chamber, and sent on short embassies to France.
In 1674, the estate of his uncle, James Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, came to him by its owner's death, and the title was conferred on him the year after. In 1677, he became, by the death of his father, Earl of Dorset, and inherited the estate of his family.
In 1684, having buried his first wife of the family of Bagot, who left him no child, he married a daughter of the Earl of Northampton, celebrated both for beauty and understanding.
He received some favourable notice from King James; but soon found it necessary to oppose the violence of his innovations, and, with some other lords, appeared in Westminster Hall to countenance the bishops at their trial.
As enormities grew every day less supportable, he found it necessary to concur in the Revolution. He was one of those lords who sat every day in council to preserve the public peace, after the King's departure; and, what is not the most illustrious action of his life, was employed to conduct the Princess Anne to Nottingham with a guard, such as might alarm the populace as they passed, with false apprehensions of her danger. Whatever end may be designed, there is always something despicable in a trick.
He became, as may be easily supposed, a favourite of King William, who, the day after his
household, and gave him afterwards the garter. He happened to be among those that were tossed with the King in an open boat sixteen hours, in very rough and cold weather, on the coast of Holland. His health afterwards declined; and, on January 19, 1705-6, he died at Bath.
He was a man whose elegance and judgment were universally confessed, and whose bounty to the learned and witty was generally known. To the indulgent affection of the public, Lord Rochester bore ample testimony in this remark— "I know not how it is, but Lord Buckhurst may do what he will, yet is never in the wrong."
If such a man attempted poetry, we cannot wonder that his works were praised. Dryden, whom, if Prior tells truth, he distinguished by his beneficence, and who lavished his blandishments on those who are not known to have so well deserved them, undertaking to produce authors of our own country superior to those of antiquity, says, "I would instance your Lordship in satire, and Shakspeare in tragedy." Would it be imagined that, of this rival to antiquity, all the satires were little personal invectives, and that his longest composition was a song of eleven stanzas?
The blame, however, of this exaggerated praise falls on the encomiast, not upon the author; whose performances are, what they pretend to be, the effusions of a man of wit; gay, vigorous, and airy. His verses to Howard show great fertility of mind; and his Dorinda has been imitated by Pope.
GEORGE STEPNEY, descended from the Step- | burgh; in 1699, to the King of Poland; in 1701 neys of Pendigrast, in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster, in 1663. Of his father's condition or fortune I have no account.* Having received the first part of his education at Westminster, where he passed six years in the College, he went at nineteen to Cambridge,† where he continued a friendship begun at school with Mr. Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax. They came to London together, and are said to have been invited into public life by the Earl of Dorset.
again to the Emperor; and in 1706, to the States-general. In 1697, he was made one of the commissioners of trade. His life was busy, and not long. He died in 1707; and is buried in Westminster Abbey, with this epitaph, which Jacob transcribed :
His qualifications recommended him to many foreign employments, so that his time seems to have been spent in negotiations. In 1692, he was sent envoy to the elector of Brandenburgh; in 1693, to the Imperial Court; in 1694, to the Elector of Saxony; in 1696, to the Electors of Mentz and Cologne, and the Congress at Francfort; in 1698, a second time to Branden
It has been conjectured that our Poet was either son or grandson of Charles, third son of Sir John Stepney, the first baronet of that family. See Granger's History, vol. ii. p. 396, edit. 8vo. 1775. Mr. Cole says, the Poet's father was a grocer. Cole's MSS. in Brit. Mus.-C.
He was entered of Trinity College, and took his master's degree in 1689.-H.
H. S. E.
Ob Ingenii acumen,
Virorum Amplissimorum Consuetudinem,
Suâ ætate multum celebratus,
Post longum honorum Curfum
Brevi Temporis Spatio confectum, Cum Naturæ parum, Famæ satis vixerat,
Animam ad altiora aspirantem placidè efflavit
On the left hand.
Ex Equestri Familiâ Stepneiorum, De Pendegrast. in Comitatu Pembrochiensi oriundus, Westmonasterii natus est, A. D. 1663. Electus in Collegium Sancti Petri Westmonast. A. 1676. Sancti Trinitatis Cantab. 1682. Consiliariorum quibus Commerci Cura commissa est 1697. Chelseiæ mortuus, et, comitante Magnâ Procerum Frequentia, huc elatus, 1707.
It is reported that the juvenile compositions of Stepney made gray authors blush. I know not whether his poems will appear such wonders to the present age. One cannot always easily find
the reason for which the world has sometimes conspired to squander praise. It is not very unlikely that he wrote very early as well as he ever wrote; and the performances of youth have many favourers, because the authors yet lay no claim to public honours, and are therefore not considered as rivals by the distributors of fame.
He apparently professed himself a poet, and added his name to those of the other wits in the version of Juvenal; but he is a very licentious translator, and does not recompense his neglect of the author by beauties of his own. In his original poems, now and then, a happy line may perhaps be found, and now and then a short composition may give pleasure. But there is, in the whole, little either of the grace of wit, or the vigour of nature.
JOHN PHILIPS was born on the 30th of December, 1676, at Bampton, in Oxfordshire; of which place his father, Dr. Stephen Philips, archdeacon of Salop, was minister. The first part of his education was domestic; after which he was sent to Winchester, where, as we are told by Dr. Sewel, his biographer, he was soon distinguished by the superiority of his exercises; and what is less easily to be credited, so much endeared himself to his schoolfellows, by his civility and good-nature, that they, without murmur or ill-will, saw him indulged by the master with particular immunities. It is related, that when he was at school, he seldom mingled in play with the other boys, but retired to his chamber; where his sovereign pleasure was to sit hour after hour, while his hair was combed by somebody whose services he found means to procure.*
At school he became acquainted with the poets, ancient and modern, and fixed his attention particularly on Milton.
In 1694, he entered himself at Christ-church, a college at that time in the highest reputation, by the transmission of Busby's scholars to the care first of Fell, and afterwards of Aldrich. Here he was distinguished as a genius eminent among the eminent, and for friendship particularly intimate with Mr. Smith, the author of "Phædra and Hippolytus." The profession which he intended to follow was that of physic; and he took much delight in natural history, of which botany was his favourite part.
Isaac Vossius relates, that he also delighted in having his hair combed when he could have it done by barbers, or other persons skilled in the rules of prosody. Of the passage that contains this ridiculous fancy, the following is a translation :-"Many people take delight in the rubbing of their limbs, and the combing of their hair; but these exercises would delight much more, if the servants at the baths, and of the barbers, were so skilful in this art, that they could express any measures with their fingers. I remember that more than once I have fallen
to the hands of men of this sort, who could imitate any measure of songs in combing the hair, so as sometimes to express very intelligibly iambics, trochees; dactyls, &c. from whence there arose to me no small delight." See his "Treatise de Poematum cantu et Viribus Kyth Oxon. 1673. p. 62.-H.
His reputation was confined to his friends and to the University; till about 1703, he extended it to a wider circle by the "Splendid Shilling," which struck the public attention with a mode of writing new and unexpected.
This performance raised him so high, that, when Europe resounded with the victory of Blenheim, he was, probably with an occult opposition to Addison, employed to deliver the acclamation of the Tories. It is said that he would willingly have declined the task, but that his friends urged it upon him. It appears that he wrote this poem at the house of Mr. St. John.
"Blenheim" was published in 1705. The next year produced his great work, the poem upon "Cider," in two books; which was received with loud praises, and continued long to be read, as an imitation of Virgil's "Georgic," which needed not shun the presence of the original.
He then grew probably more confident of his own abilities, and began to meditate a poem on the "Last Day;" a subject on which no mind can hope to equal expectation.
This work he did not live to finish; his diseases, a slow consumption and an asthma, put a stop to his studies, and on Feb. 15, 1798, at the beginning of his thirty-third year, put an end to his life.
He was buried in the cathedral of Hereford; and Sir Simon Harcourt, afterwards lord-chancellor, gave him a monument in Westminster Abbey. The inscription at Westminster was written, as I have heard, by Dr. Atterbury, though commonly given to Dr. Freind.
Herefordiæ conduntur Ossa,
Qui Viris bonis doctisque juxta charus,
Litterarum Amniorum sitim,
Præclaris Emulorum studiis excitatus,
Antiquo illo, libero, multiformi
Ad res ipsas apto prorsus, et attemperato,
Uni in hoc laudis genere Miltono secundus,
Res seu Tenues, seu Grandes, seu Mediocres
Auso licèt à tuâ Metrorum Lege discedere,
Vatum certe Cineres, tuos undique stipantium
Viri benè de se, de Litteris meriti
J. Philips, Stephani, S. T. P. Archidiaconi
Philips has been always praised, without contradiction, as a man modest, blameless, and pious; who bore narrowness of fortune without discontent, and tedious and painful maladies without impatience; beloved by those that knew him, but not ambitious to be known. He was probably not formed for a wide circle. His conversation is commended for its innocent gayety, which seems to have flowed only among his intimates; for I have been told that he was in company silent and barren, and employed only upon the pleasure of his pipe. His addiction to tobacco is mentioned by one of his biographers, who remarks, that in all his writings, except "Blenheim," he has found an opportunity of celebrating the fragrant fume. In common life he was probably one of those who please by not offending, and whose person was loved because his writings were admired. He died honoured and lamented, before any part of his reputation had withered, and before his patron St. John had disgraced him.
His works are few. The "Splendid Shilling" has the uncommon merit of an original design, unless it may be thought precluded by the an
cient Centos. To degrade the sounding words and stately construction of Milton, by an application to the lowest and most trivial things, gratifies the mind with a momentary triumph over that grandeur which hitherto held its captives in admiration; the words and things are presented with a new appearance, and novelty is always grateful where it gives no pain.
But the merit of such performances begins and ends with the first author. He that should again adapt Milton's phrase to the gross incidents of common life, and even adapt it with more art, which would not be difficult, must yet expect but a small part of the praise which Philips has obtained; he can only hope to be considered as the repeater of a jest.
"The parody on Milton," says Gildon, "is the only tolerable production of its Author." This is a censure too dogmatical and violent. The poem of "Blenheim" was never denied to be tolerable, even by those who do not allow it supreme excellence. It is indeed the poem of a scholar, "all inexpert of war;" of a man who writes books from books, and studies the world in a college. He seems to have formed his ideas of the field of Blenheim from the battles of the heroic ages, or the tales of chivalry, with very little comprehension of the qualities necessary to the composition of a modern hero, which Addison has displayed with so much propriety. He makes Marlborough behold at a distance the slaughter made by Tallard, then haste to encounter and restrain him, and mow his way through ranks made headless by his sword.
He imitates Milton's numbers indeed, but imitates them very injudiciously. Deformity is easily copied; and whatever there is in Milton which the reader wishes away, all that is obsclete, peculiar, or licentious, is accumulated with great care by Philips. Milton's verse was harmonious, in proportion to the general state of our metre in Milton's age; and, if he had written after the improvements made by Dryden, it is reasonable to believe that he would have admitted a more pleasing modulation of numbers into his work; but Philips sits down with a resolution to make no more music than he found; to want all that his master wanted, though he is very far from having what his master had. Those asperities, therefore, that are venerable in the "Paradise Lost," are contemptible in the "Blenheim."
There is a Latin ode written to his patron, St. John, in return for a present of wine and tobacco, which cannot be passed without notice. It is gay and elegant, and exhibits several artful accommodations of classic expressions to new purposes. It seems better turned than the ode of Hannes.*
To the poem on "Cider," written in imitation of the "Georgics," may be given this peculiar praise, that it is grounded in truth; that the pre
*This ode I am willing to mention, because there seems to be an error in all the printed copies, which is, I think, retained in the last. They all read:
Quam Gratiarum cura decentium'
The author probably wrote,
Quam Gratiarum cura decentium