Imatges de pÓgina

knowledge which he discovered in 1700, when he defended the earl of Anglefea against his lady, afterwards dutchefs of Buckinghamshire, who fued for a divorce, and obtained it.

The expence of his pleasures, and neglect of bufinefs, had now leffened his revenues; and he was willing to accept of a fettlement in Ireland, where, about 1702, he was made judge of the admiralty, commiffioner of the prizes, keeper of the records in Birmingham's tower, and vicar-general to Dr. Marth, the primate.

But it is vain to put wealth within the reach of him who will not stretch out his hand to take it. King foon found a friend as idle and thoughtless as himself, in Upton, one of the judges, who had a pleasant house called Mount-town, near Dublin, to which King frequently retired; delighting to neglect his intereft, forget his cares, and defert his duty.

Here he wrote Mully of Mountown, a poem; by which, though fanciful readers in the pride of fa gacity have given it a poetical interpretation, was meant originally no more than it expreffed, as it was dictated only by the author's delight in the quiet of Mountown.

In 1708, when lord Wharton was fent to govern Ireland, King returned to London, with his poverty, his idlenefs, and his wit; and published fome effays called Useful Tranfactions. His Voyage to the Island of Cajamai is particularly commended. He then wrote the Art of Love, a poem remarkable, notwithstanding its title, for purity of fentiment; and in 1709 imitated Horace in an Art of Cookery, which he published, with fome letters to Dr. Lifter.

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In 1710, he appeared as a lover of the Church, on the fide of Sacheverell; and was fuppofed to have concurred at least in the projection of The Examiner. His eyes were open to all the operations of Whiggifm; and he bestowed fome ftrictures upon Dr. Kennett's adulatory fermon at the funeral of the duke of Devonshire.

The Hiftory of the Heathen Gods, a book compofed for schools, was written by him 1711. The work is useful; but might have been produced without the powers of King. The fame year, he published Rufinus, an hiftorical effay; and a poem, intended to difpofe the nation to think as he thought of the duke of Marlborough and his adherents.

In 1711, competence, if not plenty, was again put into his power. He was, without the trouble of attendance, or the mortification of a request, made gazetteer. Swift, Freind, Prior, and other men of the fame party, brought him the key of the gazetteer's office. He was now again placed in a profitable employment, and again threw the benefit away. An A&t of Infolvency made his bufinefs at that time particularly troublefome; and he would not wait till hurry fhould be at an end, but impatiently refigned it, and returned to his wonted indigence and amufements.

One of his amusements at Lambeth, where he refided, was to mortify Dr. Tenifon, the Archbishop, by a publick festivity, on the furrender of Dunkirk to Hill; an event with which Tenifon's political bigotry did not fuffer him to be delighted. King was refolved to counteract his fullennefs, and at the expence of a few barrels of ale filled the neighbourhood with honeft merriment.

In the Autumn of 1712, his health declined; he grew weaker by degrees, and died on Chriftmasday. Though his life had not been without irregularity, his principles were pure and orthodox, and his death was pious.

After this relation, it will be naturally fuppofed that his poems were rather the amufements of idlenefs than efforts of ftudy; that he endeavoured rather to divert than aftonifh; that his thought feldom afpired to fublimity; and that, if his verse was eafy and his images familiar, he attained what he defired. His purpose is to be merry; but perhaps, to enjoy his mirth, it may be fometimes neceffary to think well of his opinions *.


THOMAS SPRAT was born in 1636, at Tallaton in Devonshire, the son of a clergyman; and having been educated, as he tells of himself, not at Westminster or Eton, but at a little school by the church yard fide, became a commoner of Wadham College in Oxford in 1651; and, being chofen fcholar next year, proceeded through the ufual academical courfe; and, in 1657, became mafter of arts. He obtained a fellowship, and commenced poet.

* Dr. King's Original Works, in Profe and Verfe, were first collected, in three volumes, fmall 8vo, 1776. N.

In 1659, his poem on the death of Oliver was published, with thofe of Dryden and Waller. In his dedication to Dr. Wilkins he appears a very willing and liberal encomiaft, both of the living and the dead. He implores his patron's excufe of his verfes, both as falling "fo infinitely below the full and fublime genius of that excellent poet "who made this way of writing free of our na"tion," and being "fo little equal and propor"tioned to the renown of a prince on whom they 66 were written; fuch great actions and lives de"ferving to be the fubject of the nobleft pens and "moft divine phanfies." He proceeds: " Having "fo long experienced your care and indulgence, "and been formed, as it were, by your own "hands, not to entitle you to any thing which my "meannefs produces would be not only injuftice, "but facrilege.

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He published the fame year a poem on the Plague of Athens; a fubject of which it is not eafy to fay what could recommend it. To thefe he added afterwards a poem on Mr. Cowley's death.

After the Reftoration he took orders, and, by Cowley's recommendation, was made chaplain to the duke of Buckingham, whom he is faid to have helped in writing the Rebearfal. He was likewise chaplain to the king.

As he was the favourite of Wilkins, at whofe houfe began thofe philofophical conferences and enquiries, which in time produced the Royal Society, he was confequently engaged in the fame ftudies, and became one of the fellows; and when, after their incorporation, fomething feemed ne ceffary to reconcile the publick to the new infti


tution, he undertook to write its hiftory, which he published in 1667. This is one of the few books which felection of fentiment and elegance of diction have been able to preferve, though written. upon a fubject flux and tranfitory. The History of the Royal Society is now read, not with the wifh to know what they were then doing, but how their Tranfactious are exhibited by Sprat.

In the next year he published Obfervations on Sorbiere's Voyage into England, in a Letter to Mr. Wren. This is a work not ill-performed; but perhaps rewarded with at leaft its full proportion of praife.

In 1668 he published Cowley's Latin poems, and prefixed in Latin the Life of the Author; which he afterwards amplified, and placed before Cowley's English works, which were by will com-.. mitted to his care.


Ecclefiaftical benefices now fell faft upon In 1668 he became a prebendary of Weftminster, and had afterwards the church of St. Margaret, adjoining to the Abbey. He was in 1680 made canon of Windfor, in 1683 dean of Westminster, and in 1684 bishop of Rochefter.

The Court having thus a claim to his diligence. and gratitude, he was required to write the Hiftory of the Rye-house Plot; and in 1685 published A true Account and Declaration of the horrid Confpiracy against the late King, his prefent Majefty, and the prefent Government; a performance which he thought convenient, after the Revolution, to extenuate and excufe.

The fame year, being clerk of the closet to the king, he was made dean of the chapel-royal; and the year afterwards received the laft proof of his mafter's


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